LONG BLOG ALERT
An interesting morning was spent yesterday with a talk from the DfE on the new EYNFF at the Learn, Explore Debate event hosted by Sue Robb. Alan Krikarian is the DfE Early Years Lead for the EYNFF Funding Team and very knowledgeable he is on the subject, which was not only a refreshing change, but also very useful when it came to answering our burning questions, of which I had several !
An estimated 1000 responses have been received so far – now I’m sure we can all do better than that! THERE IS STILL TIME – HAVE YOUR SAY – MAKE THE EFFORT. ONE WEEK LEFT to closure at midnight on 22nd September.
The DfE have known the current system was unfair for quite a time, and have indeed grasped all of the issues and pressure points within the sector, and this was publically confirmed here today. Far be it for me to know how government machinery works but apparently until they had a solution they were not able to admit this ‘failure’ of the existing system. But is the EYNFF a workable solution? “Its better than anything we’ve had before and it is a national formula” advised Alan but on the point of ‘is it fair?’ he was less eager to comment. So from this I glean that the DfE are under ministerial directives to produce something that will satisfy those that have in favour of those that haven’t – so as not to upset the apple cart too much. So at what points does it move from being an EYNFFF to an EYNFF – with the extra F meaning FAIR? Let’s dig deeper…
The chart Alan has produced, which many of you may have seen already, really does explain visually how the system works. With the base rate and additional needs factors being multiplied by the ACA (area cost adjustment – the one that includes the NRCA rates factor I have previously discussed) all of which goes to the Local Authorities (LA’s) as a lump sum where they will then be able to distribute through a ‘basket of metrics’ (factors the LA can influence – or not depending on the outcomes of the consultation) and then with the EYPP and the DAF sitting outside of these and going directly to qualifying children. The questions for the consultation are: Are these good choices of metrics? – that’s for you to think about in your consultation responses but the people I spoke with generally thought that:
- EAL should include ALL children with Speech and Language difficulties not just EAL
- The ACA should not include a ‘rates factor’ (the NCRA)
- Deprivation should perhaps be replaced with disadvantage – as income is not the only factor for children who need additional support.
- Flexibility is a bit worrying as this will definitely link into the provision of 30 hours
- Efficiency – just what measures are there to use for this other than ratios? And should this be influenced by funding?
- Should there be a universal base rate for all providers in each LA – are all our costs really so similar?
The national ‘base rate’ shown at the top is actually only £3.53 – far short of our promised £4.88 but the guidance that comes with the consultation explains how this comes about. Personally I think this base rate needs to be higher across the country but I fear the ‘quantum of money’ to which Alan referred is just not big enough. And whilst the ACA IS unfair – what has come out of my further talking, analysing and discussions is that there is a far bigger factor involved that makes this EYNFF impossible to EVER be fair.
That factor is the maximum 10% capping (limited to 2 years only) on the reduction that can be made to any Local Authority.
As the prime example we have one LA receiving £9.17 per child currently – with this 10% cap in place they will only ever go down to £8.24 – hence the EYNFF does not work in the same way as it does with the rest of us as this higher income is guaranteed. So within the consultation we need to stress that capping should be applied each and every year until they fall in line with the rest of the country. One of my questions related to this 10% capping – from reading between the lines I would say that this is a Ministerial requirement – someone doesn’t want their (obviously currently highly paid constituency) to be losers and has lobbied for this permanent cap – what happened to austerity? We’ve all had to cut back year on year – so surely a transition could be put in place until every LA in the country was really and truly on the same formula – using the same starting point!
I had to ask the question about the NCRA – just where did the figures come from – he claimed the Valuations Office – but also recognised that there has been some contention about the use of this as a factor. I would still stress it does not cost twice as much to deliver in some areas that others and if the GLM is a good enough factor to be used for the 2yr funding calculation – why is it suddenly not good enough for the 3-4yr funding? Stress this point home please. Especially if you are anywhere North of the Capital!
Some MP lobbying is definitely called for and I hope to be talking with the lady who is close to meeting up with Caroline Dinenage about what lobbying we need to do there. For the rest of use – its about writing to our MP and stating that – whilst we approve of an EYNFF – we would like it to be an EYNFFF!
And to end – just a bit of bad news for those of you not yet motivated enough to take up the chalice and respond to the consultation – when asked about future increase then we were informed that these figures are “front loaded” for the next few years – so have apparently already taken into account the NLW, Auto-enrolment, cost of living – REALLY (!) – Now go find that consultation and tell them what you think.
You can also look at the original sample response that I have previously shared. All I need to do now is write my final response! Although I suspect I might not get time to share it as I have many things on prior to the 22nd September – but it will be completed!
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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