By now many of you will have undertaken some sort of consultation with your LA’s on what it seems will now be 150 different funding formulas. So much for the Government setting an EYNFF. What was the point? Was the whole thing just a mere distraction for the whole sector whilst all they did was juggle around the money to suit their own ends? I can’t help but think this is the case – as I said some 18 months ago, if you take all the money and spread it out evenly then there is enough to go around. With that funding pot it would have meant £4.53 per child, with the current funding pot that would be anything up to £4.88 with EYPP – so why aren’t we all getting that? How is it that a child in one London Borough can STILL get over £8 whilst a child in just about every other part of the country gets less and sometimes still as low as £3.77 (or you may know of less than that even!). What makes a child worth more to the Government based on where they live? How fair is that to parents? And how fair is this to providers who are left to mop up the funding problems?
And what of the LA’s in all this, still a mixed bunch it would seem – firstly I would say there are those that are realistic and are making the best of a bad lot – even where funding is to be cut I have seen LA’s make considered decisions, consult fairly and even fight to push forward as much funding as possible to the front line to increase rates. Conversely I have also seen LA’s, who have had their rates cut, try to protect their central EY team and make no effort to even try to meet the challenge set by the government of £4 per hour for providers, these LA’s often will not enter into discussions and present a fait accompli to us. Additionally in LA’s that have been ‘winners’ I see them capitalising on the extra money and retaining more than they did before, partially understandable as other changes on central spend come into force, but some of which is just further reducing what could come to the front line by retaining funds unnecessarily. It’s good thought to see some LA’s are beginning to listen and understand not only their plight but that of providers as well – I’ve seen changes in language from ‘free’ to funded starting up which is a great sign for the future. The time has come for PVI groups to start discussions in earnest with their LA’s , to gain their understanding and support and to make local parents realise that they too have been sold a pup with an election promise that was never going to be achievable.
So will central government continue to allow this to happen across the country – do they still not see that we are one sector, that our voices are combining and we are getting poised for action? They are not being responsive enough to the problem, there is no more money we are told. However, they have clearly come out on the side of being able to charge ‘additional services’ with their sustainable early years information and Childcare Works comedy oops sorry road show. Although there is still this caveat that these additional charges can only be optional. What a ridiculous situation that is to be in. You can charge but you can’t make parents pay? Well there are many ways to make this situation work for you and the Champagne Nurseries, Lemonade Funding Facebook movement highlights the sentiment of many providers and provides many examples of the ways this can be done, with many examples in the files. If you’ve not joined already then go and have a look. But my main sentiment is –really why should we have to? Just let us get on doing what we do best – delivering quality childcare!
Change like this though will take time and because we know many people are struggling now and need solutions today, we continue to offer our popular Funding the Gap Workshop, which is great for anyone who feels they need that helping hand in getting the numbers right. We look at funding differences and how to minimise our losses and have vibrant, sometimes even heated discussions about how we manage our fees, prices lists and other finance related matters. We’re now looking at turning this into a presentation style delivery to support more people and more settings over what is an ever reducing number of weeks till altered funding rates and 30 hours comes in. We have three workshops coming up in the next 6 weeks, in the West Midlands, East Midlands and Kent or if you are interested in having a Workshop or Presentation near you then you can complete an Expression of Interest form.
About the author: Tricia Wellings
Her passion for and knowledge of owning and running a nursery group and the issues within the sector that affect them is second to none. She continues to keep herself updated through regular meetings with PVI groups, Local Authorities, Ofsted Big Conversation and Conferences.
You can find our more about Tricia on her website www.triciawellings.co.uk