Plan to double free childcare hours is unrealistic for more than HALF of nurseries

While it’s great that the government is trying to extend free childcare hours, the realities of putting this into practice is proving more difficult…

15 to 30 hours free childcare costs worries

by Hayley Kadrou |
Published on

The National Day Nurseries Association has issued a warning over the governments plans to extend the amount of free nursery hours parents are entitled to each week.

While most will obviously agree that this is a great idea, officials on the other hand have a few reservations.

The plan to see the weekly hours of free education doubled from 15 to 30 in a bid to support parents is set to face problems due to major underfunding - NDNA have found that fewer than half of nurseries will be able to actually meet the demands to roll out the scheme.

Yet, of 485 nurseries surveyed, only 45 per cent said they were likely o to take on board the scheme.

Under the new legislation in the Childcare Bill, the new scheme should be available nationwide by the end of 2017, as they will begin to roll it out this autumn.

Although keen stress they fully support the change, NDNA’s chief executive Purnima Tanuku told the BBC:

"Serious funding shortfalls stand in the way of nurseries getting on board, despite their desire to help families with free childcare.”

"Private, voluntary and independent nurseries deliver most of the government's free places, currently 15 hours per week for all three- and four-year-olds and some two-year-olds.

"But the nursery sector is reluctant to commit to offering more free hours when they already make a significant annual loss - an average of £34,000 per nursery - on the funded places they currently provide."

However, childcare minister Sam Gyimah assured:

"We are backing families and funding the sector, with £1bn extra funding every year by 2020, including £300m annually to increase the national average funding rate, to incentivise and attract providers to deliver the full 30-hour free offer to parents.

"This extra funding was based on an extensive consultation with the sector and our review into the cost of delivering childcare, the most comprehensive analysis of this market ever.

"The NDNA's survey shows many providers are likely to offer free childcare and thousands of providers and councils also expressed an interest in taking part in our early implementers programme, well in advance of the national rollout."

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