The new funding rates have been announced this week and the figures have been clearly stated as £4.88 for 3 & 4 yr olds – so essentially £4.35 plus 53p EYPP and £5.39 for 2 yr olds. I keep hearing from everyone that these are ‘average’ rates. But I feel I need to challenge this. I have not heard one politician say the word average. If they were looking at paying us average rates then surely they need not change anything as the current ‘average rate’ according to them is in the region of £4.38 as this is the £5000 worth of ‘free’childcare the politicians are keen to tell parents they will be receiving on 30 hours. That said – have we therefore been shortchanged by 3p?
Now I appreciate the new Funding Formula will achieve differences between local authorities, based on costs of living plus deprivation and many other factors. However, why would they be so keen to be telling us how unfair it is that some providers (or rather LA’s) receive £2000 more per child than others if they are not intending to change this. Announcing a specific rate to then not deliver something close to it doesn’t make sense does it? Now, this IS going to mean some LA’s are going to be paid less than before (they were trying not to say it directly but it was definitely there in the ‘we have no evidence of costs such as £9 per hour’ in response to questions) however many of these LA’s were not passing over the full amount they were being given – some passing as little as half the amount. It doesn’t follow that LA’s will reduce rates where they are higher – one of our LA ‘s already subsidises out of their own central funds.
So, the £300 million was thought to be for the 30 hours but it seems it is new money for the ‘uplift in funding’, if Sam Gyimah has got it correct. I have previously campaigned for fairer funding and calculated that if we took the total amount and averaged it we would actually be getting nearer £4.53. Is this what they have done with some spare for the LA’s? This is what Sam Gyimah says on his facebook page in answer to some questions after the announcement:
Thanks for all the questions on childcare funding announcement yesterday. I’m delighted that at a time of austerity, the government is prioritising childcare with record levels of investment.
1. £300m for the uplift in the hourly rate is NEW money.
2. Introducing the 30 hrs and increasing the hourly rate for 2,3 and 4 year olds mean we well be spending £1billion extra from 2019 onwards.
3. We know that many providers get far less than the rate announced nationally, so we will be reforming the LA role so that providers at the frontline benefit from the increased rate.
4. We will also simplify the bureaucracy around the free entitlement.
Until the details are revealed we are still left guessing a little…
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