Of the 115 nurseries that responded to the National Day Nurseries Association’s Cymru’s annual survey, 87 per cent said they would be 'likely' or 'very likely' to deliver Wales’ Childcare Offer of 30 funded hours a week over 48 weeks of the year.
Just 1 per cent of respondents said they would be unlikely to become involved in the 30 hours.
Selected local authorities are already delivering the offer, with roll-out across the whole of Wales expected by 2020. Currently, all three- and four-year-olds in Wales are entitled to 10 hours a week.
Of those that responded to the NDNA’s survey, 32 per cent were already delivering the offer.
Of those already delivering the offer through local authority pilots, 59 per cent said that the £4.50 funding rate, alongside permitted additional charges, are in line with present costs. A total of 41 per cent however said this figure is less than their usual fee.
Despite the general optimism around the Childcare Offer, the survey showed that nursery businesses still face challenges with funding rates and delivery costs of the 10 hours of funded education for three and four-year-olds, under the Foundation Phase.
For 82 per cent, three and four-year-old funding does not cover their costs, while 41 per cent, said funding for disadvantaged twos does not cover their costs.
Other challenges cited by respondents include rising staff wages, with funding not keeping pace with the national living wage and minimum wage, and achieving a profit or surplus.
Despite business rate relief being introduced, fewer than half said they will benefit. This year, the Welsh government introduced a permanent small business rate relief scheme, making more than a hundred settings in Wales exempt from paying business rates.
More than 70 per cent of respondents said they plan to increase their fees.
NDNA has put forward a number of recommendations to the Welsh government, they are:
- Increase the hourly funding rate for the Foundation Phase, ensuring it aligns with the Childcare Offer for Wales and keeps pace with rising staffing costs year on year.
- Give all day nurseries 100 per cent relief on business rates.
- Increase investment in the sector to support the training and development of nursery staff.
- Bring in a Childcare Passport, an online account for parents that combines all funding streams that they can use to pay childcare providers directly.
Launching the findings at NDNA Cymru’s Nursery of the Year, Meithrinfa Si-Lwli, in Cardiff today, the organisation’s chief executive Purnima Tanuku, will say, ‘ This year there was a remarkable shift within the sector which has been borne out by our figures, that 87 per cent of respondents would be likely to deliver the Childcare Offer for Wales.
‘This is due to the Welsh Government’s expansion plans which include all types of childcare provider.
‘We call on the Welsh Government to continue moving forwards to support early years providers. We were pleased that the Welsh Government listened to NDNA Cymru and gave support to some nurseries with business rates relief, but call on decision-makers to look at giving 100 per cent business rate support to all nurseries.
'They must also increase the woeful Foundation Phase rates to match the Childcare Offer for Wales. We have members telling us they are paid half the amount per hour for Foundation Phase, which is the education element of the Offer. This is totally inadequate and risks nurseries’ sustainability and quality.’
She added, ‘As we approach the Welsh Labour leadership contest, there have already been pledges made about expanding funded childcare. It’s important to get it right now before any future expansion plans are put in place.’