Government dismisses calls for independent review of childcare funding

Posted: 14th September 2021

An independent funding review of England’s childcare system would not be “appropriate” ahead of the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), the children’s minister has said.

Vicky Ford told a parliamentary debate on the funding of childcare that “the outcomes of such a review would not be able to feed into the spending review which is happening at this time”.

The Department for Education is “already pressing the importance of early years and childcare across government”, she added.

The CSR will be announced on 27 October.

Ford also dismissed figures put forward by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) that show a 35 per cent increase in the closure of childcare settings between April 2020 and March this year.

“The number of places has stayed broadly the same and some of the closures are mergers,” she said, adding that a number of settings are “in parallel increasing the number of places they offer”.

The debate was held after 112,000 people signed a petition relating to funding and affordability of childcare.

It states that: “We have the second most expensive childcare system in the world. A full time place costs, on average, £14,000 per year, making it completely unaffordable for many families. Parents are forced to leave their jobs or work fewer hours, which has a negative impact on the economy and on child poverty.”

Catherine  McKinnell, chair of the petitions committee, opened the debate and argued that the current system is “letting down children, parents, and providers”.

She added that a “properly funded system” would reduce disadvantage related to “poor health, mental health and crime”.

Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, said affordable childcare is a “myth”.

In its response to the petition, the government said it “is not currently planning a review of the childcare system”.

“Support is available to help with childcare costs, and the government monitors the sustainability of childcare providers,” a statement added.

briefing by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) published ahead of the debate shows that 96 per cent of working parents felt that the government is not doing enough to support families with the cost of childcare.

Christine Farquarson, senior economist at the IFS, said: “Parents have benefitted from a huge expansion in funded hours in recent years – but hourly funding rates have stagnated since their high point in 2017. Other parts of the childcare system have fared even worse: low-income working parents have seen cuts in childcare subsidies through the benefit system of over a third since 2009-10.”

Source: children & young people now

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