Released on 17 December 2012
Pressures on London’s childcare system mean that almost 25,000 extra nursery places are necessary to meet a headline pledge by the Deputy Prime Minister, new research shows.
London Councils, the body which represents the capital’s 33 local authorities, commissioned Daycare Trust, a national charity which campaigns for affordable childcare, to look at how to make the entitlement for free part-time early years education for the poorest 20 per cent of two-year olds work in the capital.
The research reveals that a minimum of 24,100 new places are needed to meet the pledge. This will rise further to 31,700 places by September 2014.
Factors adversely affecting the capital, including higher levels of poverty, rising birth rates, migration and higher staff and property costs, mean that the costs of delivering the scheme will be significantly higher than elsewhere in the UK.
To meet this challenge, the report outlines how a number of boroughs are taking innovative approaches to deliver the offer. This includes augmenting early years education with home learning and parental support. This eases pressure on childcare providers and provides targeted and integrated support to deprived families.
The report makes a number of recommendations to government about how best to make the programme work. As well as supporting combining early years education with targeted parental support, the government should provide sufficient funding to London Boroughs to allow providers to be paid £8 per hour. Based on government allocations, providers will receive a significantly lower average of £5.71 per hour if all revenue funding goes to providers.
Mayor Jules Pipe, Chair of London Councils, said:
“Today’s research shows that councils are thinking innovatively about how to create the places needed to deliver this new entitlement. However, London has more births, more poverty and more expensive childcare costs than elsewhere in the UK. The government needs to take this into account.”
Anand Shukla, Chief Executive of Daycare Trust, said:
“This policy has the potential to boost the life chances of the most deprived children in London but finding an additional 25,000 early education places for two year olds is proving a huge challenge for local authorities. A shortfall in day-to-day funding, for providers and for local authorities, risks compromising this ambitious policy. A small amount of extra funding would get the buy-in of providers and the essential local authority infrastructure needed to make this scheme a success.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Department for Education has made available £534m nationally in 2013-14 to provide the 20 per cent most deprived two year olds with 570 hours of free childcare from 2013. London has been allocated £86.5m revenue funding and £33.9m capital funding. In 2014-15, £760m will be available nationally when the entitlement is increased to cover 40 per cent of the most disadvantaged two year olds.
The Deputy Prime Minister announced an additional £100m of capital funding to expand provision of two year old places. London local authorities received a total of £23m of this funding.
Currently, all three and four year olds are entitled to 570 hours of free early years education. However, essential to this free provision is licence for childcare providers to cross-subsidise their costs by offering extra childcare support to parents that are able to purchase additional hours.
The report contains a number of case studies, suitable for publication, of how boroughs are innovating by using a mixed approach to helping deprived families, combining early years education with targeted parental support, such as parenting classes. This holistic approach helps ensure that vulnerable children are supported and any potential issues are resolved at any early stage, before having a significant impact on a child’s life.