The UK government budget announcement this week included an expansion of free childcare places phased in over the next couple of years to cover all under fives.

The existing provision of 30 hours a week has in the past been stated to not be sufficient to cover the cost of child care with costs for paying children being increased to cover the short fall of funded places.

Shortfall costs

Parents of three and four year olds in England are entitled to 15 free hours per week of childcare. Working families may also be eligible for an additional 15 hours per week of funded early education. But Mr Leitch said this allocation was not adequately funded by the government, leaving providers to make up the shortfall.

Impact of 2017 policy

The Pre-School Alliance claims there is a 20% gap between the amount the government is giving local authorities to fund the scheme and the actual cost to childcare providers.

Expansion impact, Gemma Rolstone, director of Puffins Nurseries in Exeter

I am gobsmacked to be honest. The system we have is broken and is not fit for purpose, and the fact they have just said they are going to extend that beggars belief. At least the extra hours is not happening immediately, which gives time to think about what that means, because if they fund it at the rate they say they are going to – there is absolutely no way it will be viable for so many settings.

Expansion of this provision to all preschool children would obviously prevent cross subsidising of year groups.

Has there been any data released by the government on how they would prevent a loss of childcare places under this new policy?


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