EARLY YEARS FUNDING ANGST
The Select committee for Children, Schools and Families has announced a full enquiry into the new funding model for free childcare in England.
The committee is calling for written submissions from childcare providers and local authorities on the impact of the Early Years Single Funding Formula (EYSFF) and the difficulties experienced in drawing up the formula.
Concerns have been raised across the early years sector about the way that each local authority is calculating its formula. Many local authorities had struggled to calculate the precise costs of the PVI sector, which could it is claimed lead to funding based on inaccurate data. Providers in council-run settings, that have traditionally received more funding than private and voluntary providers, are particularly concerned. Many feel their budgets will be dramatically reduced as a result of the changes.
Private providers have long claimed that they are being shortchanged by at least some local authorities so that they couldn’t cover their costs, leading to more providers exiting the sector. On the other hand, some state-funded nurseries are apparently struggling to cope with cuts of up to 25 per cent in their budgets under the new single funding formula, to be introduced in April. The single funding formula was designed to reduce the imbalance and inequity of the system. It was seen as a step forward by some (though not others)to ensure that private and voluntary nurseries get paid the real costs of their service But there is a feeling among many providers that too little is being stretched too far.
If the government is to meet its dual aims of using childcare to enable parents to work and improve the outcomes of the poorest children then some critics believe that a step change in the available funding is required urgently.Is that likely? Frankly no, not at all.