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Essex County Council has awarded a seven-year contract to Virgin Care, in partnership with Barnardo’s, to run children’s centres and child health services.

The Department for Work and Pensions has abandoned its much-delayed life chances strategy in favour of a wider scheme on social justice.

The Public Accounts Committee says the Government ‘misled’ the public by claiming its Troubled Families programme ‘turned around’ the lives of 99 per cent of families (116,654) with ‘multiple disadvantages’ in England.

Plans to reform school funding to end ‘a historical postcode lottery’ will see a redistribution of money with schools in big cities like Manchester, and London boroughs losing out in favour of schools in rural areas and suburbs.

Despite some early years providers and sector organisations remaining concerned following the Department for Education’s publication of the new Early Years National Funding Formula, there are indications that childminders may be feeling more upbeat.

Nurseries across the country are being hit by cuts to funding and increased costs, leading many to close ahead of the introduction of the 30 free hours.

The level of funding for the 30-hour childcare offer will not be subject to an annual review by the Government, the House of Lords has revealed.

Concerns have been raised by the early years sector that even with the increase in funding rates, many settings won’t be able to deliver 30 hours of free childcare sustainably.

Councils will receive a new minimum rate of £4.30 an hour in the new early years funding formula, the early years minister has confirmed.

Caroline Dinenage visited the Co-operative nursery in Swindon, the first in a series of visits to the area trialling the 30-hour childcare offer.