So with Brexit now a real word and the dust settling on an ‘interesting’ referendum campaign and vote, the real question becomes ‘What will the impact of the decision be on Early Years?’*
The short answer is ‘we don’t know yet’, but we thought we ought to take an educated guess so we can start to be prepared…
30 Hours funding is still knocking around at the ‘not quite sure what will happen’ stage and this latest knock to the government money pot can’t be a good sign for Early Years. No word yet, but assuming that the government doesn’t want to go back on its word completely, you can bet your bottom dollar (if you have any left) that the shortfall will be up to us as providers to deal with. Cue a backlash from the shortfall of spaces and it doesn’t look like a very pretty picture for what was a real vote winner for the conservatives. My best guess is we can see this being pushed back for at least another year, but I await word from above on this one.
Immigration was a standout point of the campaign and no one knows what this will look like ‘post Brexit’. With Theresa May (who was pro Remain) picking up the reigns, it seems likely we will see something very similar to what we have at the moment. This won’t be a bad thing for employment in the Early Years sector which is currently lacking people even including those from abroad. One things is for certain though, May isn’t one to try to please the masses (she has made herself particularly unpopular with the police for example) so we can expect to see a Brexit solution that benefits businesses over people, in my opinion.
Financial stability is obviously a concern, but with rules for the banks already being changed it seems likely small business won’t be as hard hit as the parents. Penniless parents is going to mean uncertainty for the sector as a whole, but with employment being an obvious measure of Brexit’s success, I expect to see all manner of attempts to get parents back to work. Let us hope this means high occupancy all round!
Lastly, we have to mention the Life Chances strategy that has been scrapped. This strategy, designed to increase the life chances of the poorest children in the country looks like it has been shelved. Although no directly impacting on Early Years, pulling funding away from adoption, children’s centres and other reforms hardly seems like a step in the right direction. We may see an altered version of the strategy – possibly even one that helps us with more funding for the vulnerable children, but then again maybe not!
So, lots of wait and see really, and the uncertainty seems like it might be around for a while yet. But remember – we’re in the EU for at least 2 more years, so business as usual(ish) for the foreseeable future!
*my first thought was actually ‘how does this change Fundamental British Values’ but I’m not even sure I knew what they were before!
About the author: Matt Stanford