Childcare fees for under-threes ‘may rise substantially’ when free care for older children doubles

The BBC is reporting warnings from charities that the cost of sending one and two-year-olds to nursery may have to increase substantially when free childcare for older children doubles.

Free care for three-and four-year-olds is to rise from 15 to 30 hours in each term-time week under government plans.

But the Pre-School Learning Alliance said fees were likely to rise elsewhere to cover the shortfall as not enough funding was being provided…

Childcare providers have told the Victoria Derbyshire programme they are only currently managing to offer 15 hours of free childcare a week by plugging a shortfall in government funding, usually by asking parents to pay a higher rate for the additional time the child spends in nursery.

But they say the amount of money the government is offering to enlarge the scheme will not cover their costs and the increase would make it more difficult to cross-subsidise places in this way – so they may need to increase fees of younger children who are not included in the plans…

Its chief executive, Neil Leitch, said: “You don’t need to be an accountant to work out that if you extend those 15 hours to 30 hours, you have a problem because you don’t have the ability to cross-subsidise the fees. 

“It’s quite clear you’ll have to make up that difference somewhere and I would suggest the money is likely to be made up from one and two-year-olds, as they don’t have the same entitlement.”

…Education and childcare minister, Sam Gyimah, said: “This does not match what we’re seeing on the ground and many providers want to work with us to trial our 30-hour free offer…”

More at: Childcare fees for under-threes ‘may rise’


I know many childcare providers have found the amount they get from the government for free places too low for comfort leaving them right on the edge financially.

It can’t really be a surprise that doubling the hours will cause considerably issues for them.

What do you think will happen? Will they just get on with it or (as the full article suggests) will they end up declining the opportunity to offer the extra hours, raising fees or just giving up?

Please let us know your thoughts, insights and experiences in the comments or via Twitter…

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