Today, local Member of Parliament Ruth Cadbury has invited the newly appointed Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening MP, to meet with local early years education providers in response to their concerns with the government promise of 30 hours free childcare.
Writing to the Secretary of State, Ruth said:
‘In December, I sat on the Childcare Bill committee so I was able to work on the detail of the Bill which included increased free hours provision. Although I appreciate the value that free childcare brings for households, there were concerns with the detail and implementation of this policy that the government simply did not listen to.’
‘As day care providers warned the committee back in December, the infrastructure simply is not in place for these free hours to be implemented successfully and fairly. As it stands, a number of nurseries in my constituency are facing funding issues and some are even warning that the situation may lead them to close their facilities. As I am sure you will agree, this will only exacerbate the issue and make it even more difficult for other providers to deliver the number of free hours and keep afloat.’
The Brentford and Isleworth MP, who was elected in May 2015, recently met with childcare providers from across Hounslow who say that they are already facing significant problems including the cost of care for children with additional or special needs and worry that under the government’s latest proposal they will struggle even further. The Public Accounts Committee report into the current 15 hours free childcare offer revealed that take up is low among disadvantaged two-year-olds which is significantly lower than take up for three and four-year-olds. It also warns that there may not be enough providers who are willing to provide the additional 15 hours of free childcare by 2017.
Ruth Cadbury said: “Meeting local nursery managers gave me the opportunity to understand in detail why the Government’s promise of 30 hours free childcare risks the very future of our great local nurseries.”
“The childcare providers also told me that they predicted that the majority of those who believed they would be eligible for the 30 hours offer were based in the more affluent parts of the borough and few parents from the more deprived areas believed they would be eligible. This will be disappointing news for those who believe in good quality affordable child care as a means of getting more parents into work and shows just how unfairly targeted this policy will be.”
“Having affordable good quality childcare is essential for working parents as well as for young children before they start school, but the Government’s cost-cutting agenda threatens the very existence of local nurseries. I have now written to Justine Greening, the Secretary of State, to ask her to meet me and local nurseries so she can see at first hand the implications of the Government’s poorly thought-out policy."