Editor’s view - New minister, old problems

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Hopefully Kemi Badenoch, the new Minister for Children and Families, will do something about the early years funding crisis

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Liz Roberts

A nursery owner emailed me very recently, in despair about how she was going to keep her setting going on the funding rates she receives. She was now £60,000 in debt, she explained, due to an hourly rate for three-year-olds of £3.92 (against a ‘real cost’ of £7.50).

Her story is not unusual, of course, and the Early Years Alliance reckons that there is now a £662 million funding shortfall. This nursery owner emailed Nadhim Zahawi and Damian Hinds, but was told that the funding she gets was plenty. And to add to the frustration, neither of these is in post any longer.

Every so often, the Nursery World team tries to remember the names of the rapidly changing roster of ministers who have overseen our sector during the past few governments. The length of tenure has certainly decreased of late.

Some of them seemed to have a measure of genuine interest in the subject; some found early years a good testing ground for their ideology; some saw the position as a convenient step on the ladder to something more prestigious. I’m not sure if anyone ever knew why Robert Goodwill took the job, other than that his wife once ran a playgroup!

So, welcome to Minister for Children and Families Kemi Badenoch. Your responsibilities are many and wide-ranging, from social care to SEN to ‘early years policy including inspection, regulation and literacy and numeracy’.

We wish you well and that you take a caring approach to our wonderful but beleaguered early years sector. We hope you can finally do something about the underfunding (more is promised from the PM for schools but no word on early years so far). And we hope too that providers will not have to start all over again to tell you what the problems are.

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