Childminders provide a quarter of a million childcare places, and 95% are rated either good or outstanding by Ofsted. As such, they make a huge contribution to our society and play a valuable role for many parents. We have worked to make it easier for childminders to set up their businesses and offer Government-funded early education entitlement places.
The Early Years Alliance has stated that the Government’s £66 million of extra funding for early years offers will have a “negligible” effect for providers, who are facing substantial increases in operational costs every year. Will the Secretary of State therefore commit to a large and sufficient increase in core funding for early years providers, including childminders, in the upcoming Budget?
The Chancellor outlined our commitment to put more money into early years, and the hon. Member highlights the extra £66 million that has been put into it. We have seen an expansion of the Government’s support for early years, raising the number of free hours from 12.5 to 15 to 30 and supporting children from the most disadvantaged communities. We will continue to look at this and have discussions with the Treasury.
In addition to childminders, nurseries such as the Madresfield Early Years Centre in my constituency provide a wonderful setting for young children. Can the Secretary of State provide reassurance that, where we are increasing pay for some of the lowest-paid workers in our society, those nurseries will be compensated for that when we reimburse them for free childcare provision?
My hon. Friend highlights the important role that the private sector and many organisations play in providing great settings for early years care. That is why we put an extra £66 million into the sector. It is too early to comment on negotiations with the Treasury, but I note her comments.