The Independent is reporting that a Government promise for “free” nursery places is under threat from lack of funds that could require parents to pick up the tab or lose certain benefits for their children.
Leading professionals say the Conservative Party’s manifesto pledge of 30 hours of “free” childcare per week for three- and four-year-old children could push many early years’ organisations to operate at a loss.
Nursery school budgets already squeezed by a “chronic funding gap” dating back to the Nineties have been further hit by government austerity, increased employer pension contributions and having to pay for better qualified staff.
And now the proposal to increase “free” childcare places from 15 to 30 hours a week could prevent nurseries from offering children a guaranteed spot for 52 weeks unless parents were able to contribute, experts have said.
Instead, some nurseries are set to ask the Department for Education for permission to offer parents short-term places for their children for a maximum of just 38 weeks as a way to balance the books. The Department has rebutted the claims and said it is spending a “record” amount on childcare over the next four years.
What do you think? Should nurseries be able to charge? What can the Government do to help early years organisations? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or via Twitter…
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