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child care bill amendments“The government should now commit to undertaking a full, in-depth review of childcare funding, ensuring that a credible, sustainable solution to underfunding is put in place before the plans are rolled out.”

Neil Leitch, the chief executive of the Pre-school Alliance.

A step closer to unraveling the issues

In a recent debate in the House of Lords where the Childcare Bill came under scrutiny, the peers voted in favour of the new amendments to the proposals made by the government that would see the amount of state-funded childcare double to 30 hours a week for all three and four year olds, effect from 2017.

It is a requirement under the amendments that a large-scale analysis be done to establish the implementation costs of the government’s pledge. From this analysis, a detailed solution on how the funding will be provided will be established ready to be shown to the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Lack of evidence raises concerns

The information on the funding was not available to the peers at the time of the initial report stage, which has prompted the amendments. The governments only commitment was that their would be an assurance that there would be an increase in the hourly funding rate for childcare.

The question unanswered is by how much will it increase? The new bill cannot stand up to any scrutiny without these elements being known, a view shared by Liberal Democratic peer Kath Pinnock. She goes on to say “That is why we ought to delay discussing this bill, until we know how much will be available, because everything else depends on it.”

 

Following the publication some two weeks ago of the first stage of the Department for Education’s review into the cost of expanding the free entitlement, which concluded it was “unable to understand” what the cost would be despite 2,000 submissions of evidence, was the catalyst to raising concerns by the peers.

The PLA and The NDNA applaud the decision

The concerns of the early years sector has been voiced sufficiently enough for the House of Lords to take notice and make the amendments to the Childcare Bill. This result is much to the delight of Neil Leitch, the chief executive of the Pre-school Alliance.

“It is imperative, now, that this clause remains part of the bill as it continues its journey through parliament.

“The government should now commit to undertaking a full, in-depth review of childcare funding, ensuring that a credible, sustainable solution to underfunding is put in place before the plans are rolled out.

“This change is not about blocking the bill, or delaying the roll-out of the scheme. It is about ensuring that the offer is sustainable and will succeed in the long-term, and that neither providers nor parents will have to bear the cost of a pledge that should be adequately funded by government.”

The chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) Purnima Tanuku, also commented “It’s really good that there is such robust scrutiny of the Childcare Bill happening in the House of Lords.

“It is really important that the government now responds to this amendment and ensures that funding review findings are fully published and scrutinised.

The government must work with the sector to come to a solution to benefit childcare providers and parents. Full roll-out of 30 free hours of childcare is not happening until 2017 so there is still time to do this groundwork now and get the finances right.”

Following the publication some two weeks ago of the first stage of the Department for Education’s review into the cost of expanding the free entitlement, which concluded it was “unable to understand” what the cost would be despite 2,000 submissions of evidence, was the catalyst to raising concerns by the peers.