**UPDATE** Apparently Sam Gyimah will be overseeing a review and it will start in the “next few weeks”. We will believe it when we see it!
With the Queen’s Speech less than 24 hours old, already the responses to the 26 new bills have been heard around the internet. The big one for Early Years is the double edged sword of 30 hours free child care for three and four year olds of working parents (from 2017!). The educational value of this needs no argument, but the funding does. Other bills will also impact on young people with more free schools and academies on their way (for all the difference they have been shown to make), and benefit cuts meaning more children will find themselves living in poverty through no fault of their own.
We recently attend a Worcestershire Independent Providers meeting where the current cost to settings of taking children for 15 hours was discussed. And the very strong message was “we can’t afford to keep taking the hit on these children”. The unfairness of a system that allows local government to underpay settings for these children (despite many councils receiving significantly more than they give out we might add) means that if nothing happens before 2017 children will be turned away or settings will close. With upcoming increases to minimum wage this can only get worse.
Already some big names (NDNA, Pre-School Learning Alliance, PACEY, Family and Childcare Trust, daynurseries.co.uk, Children & Young People Now, and of course us) have been making it clear something has to change, and its time for all providers to add their voices to the mix and cause a bit of a racket. The more noise we can make, the more likely we are to see a change. The conservative government said before the election that they were open to a review of the funding – we need this to happen now more than ever! Contact your local MP until such time as e-petition is reopened and we can start getting together properly.
About the author: Matt Stanford