NDNA has put together its response to the Government’s consultation on 30 hours which was developed through wide member consultation.
The key messages include:
- A sustainable funding rate for PVI providers will have the most impact in enabling providers to offer the extended entitlement. The move to 30 hours largely removes the opportunity for providers to make up the funding shortfall by cross-subsidy.
- Forthcoming changes to funding under the Early Years National Funding Formula must result in a meaningful funding increase for nurseries which keep in pace with rising costs, in particular the increments in the National Living Wage.
- There must be a single rate for all funded hours not the 15 plus 15 hours model that was originally proposed for early implementers with different rates for the first and second 15 hours which is not workable for providers.
- The hourly funding rate must be increased to meet needs of children with SEND along with sufficient support from local authorities.
- A monthly payment system would improve cash flow for many providers where advanced funding is not available.
- A model funding agreement with local authorities as recommended by NDNA is welcome to ease the administrative burden on providers.
- The rules around delivery of 30 hours must give nurseries confidence they will have control of their operating model, including charges for extras and control of the timing and requirements on access to free versus paid for sessions.
- A grace period for parents who become ineligible for 30 hours is welcome to give stability to both child and providers.
- Provision outside term-time is most valuable to working parents and a sensible approach to funded childcare.
- Flexible provision is more costly for childcare providers so where flexible provision is needed, this should be reflected in adequate funding.
- Due to the current recruitment crisis in the sector, we urge the Department for Education to reinstate functional skills as equivalents to the GCSE requirements to enable more people to become Level 3 qualified and attract more Level 2 practitioners as a career of choice.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association, said: “A particular strength of our response to this major issue is our extensive consultation with members across the country, both online and through organised consultation events in London and Wakefield.
“We also formulated our response through a National Policy Committee meeting with a representative from the Department for Education and a round table meeting of our English network chairs.
“Our key concern remains the sustainability of 30 hours for nurseries – whether they can afford to provide places at the hourly funding rates being offered. Our recent survey showed that 89% of English nurseries were making a loss on funded places, with an average shortfall of £34,000 per year.
“With the increase from 15 to 30 hours, providers will no longer be able to recover the shortfalls in funding by increasing parental fees for additional hours or for younger children’s places.
“As seen by the initial response of nurseries in some of the early implementer areas, providers find themselves unable to participate if funding levels remain unsustainable.
“We are confident that the Department for Education will look at these key issues through the pilots and create the right conditions for this beneficial policy to thrive, both for parents and for providers.”