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Childcare Funding

Volume 635: debated on Monday 29 January 2018

6. What assessment he has made of the effect of the Government’s policy on funded childcare on the financial viability of childcare settings. (903581)

By 2019-20, we will be spending about £6 billion a year on childcare support, including £1 billion to deliver 30 hours of childcare and pay the higher funding rates that we introduced in April 2017.

A recent survey by the Pre-school Learning Alliance has found that one fifth of nurseries do not think they will be financially viable in a year’s time. Will the Minister—I know he likes his parties—therefore commit to review the funding rates before more places rated “good” and “outstanding” by Ofsted close down?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. The Government have always been clear that providers can choose whether to offer parents 30 hours and what pattern of days and hours they offer. Our evaluation indicated that a higher proportion of providers were willing and able to offer 30 hours, with no evidence that financial implications were a substantial barrier to that.

May I welcome the Minister to his place? The Government promised 30 free hours of childcare for all working parents of three to four-year-olds, yet it has been revealed that only a third of providers can offer all the hours for free and that four in 10 do not think they will be able to offer the scheme at all next year. The situation will only get worse if Ministers go ahead with the real-terms cuts in funding of up to £600 a year per child. Will the Minister rethink these cuts, pay providers fairly and keep the promises made to families?

We have seen no significant issues with parents gaining places with providers for 30 hours. Of course we keep monitoring the situation, but there are no significant issues. Actually, the numbers are very promising at the moment.