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Childcare changes leave providers at “breaking point”


Childcare providers in England have claimed that the system is at “breaking point” thanks to plans to double the amount for free provision for three and four year olds.

Childcare providers are under massive pressure as the current allowance of 570 hours a year for three and four-year-olds is set to be doubled for working parents. Trailing this system has now been brought forward to 2016.

One childcare industry body, the Pre-School Learning Alliance, which represents 14,000 private, voluntary and independent groups - is warning of a "meltdown" in the system because of a shortfall in government funding. The current grant given falls on average 20% short of the true cost of providing care - £3.88 per hour compared with £4.53.

The current system means that all three and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 570 hours of free early education or childcare a year, which works out as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year. In the Queens Speech this year, the Childcare Bill announced that this would double for working parents with an income of less than £150,000. Many childcare providers are concerned that they will not have the staff or the time to work with these changes.

Chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, Neil Leitch, said:
"While we of course welcome the drive to improve the availability of childcare in this country, these figures clearly show the government's plan to extend funded childcare hours simply cannot work without a substantial increase in sector funding.
"The so-called 'free' childcare scheme is nothing of the sort. For years now, the initiative has been subsidised by providers and parents because of a lack of adequate government funding."

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