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Education

Volume 680: debated on Monday 14 September 2020

Early Years Providers: Covid-19

The following is an extract from Education questions on Monday 7 September 2020.

What steps he is taking to ensure the financial stability of early years providers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government will fund local authorities for our free childcare entitlements for the rest of this calendar year at the pre-covid levels of attendance, even if fewer children are present, so early years providers will continue to benefit from the £3.6 billion investment in the provision this financial year. We have also announced supplementary funding of up to £23 million for maintained nursery schools, which often care for higher numbers of disadvantaged pupils, and will continue to work with local authorities to monitor the sector.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but last week research was published by the TUC showing that four out of 10 working mothers either did not have or could not rely on childcare to enable them to return to work. Of those, a quarter could not rely on having a nursery place. Given that there is already a £660 million gap in early years funding, what is the Minister doing to make sure that we do not see a further loss of early years providers in the coming months?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Childcare is vital for working parents, which is why this Government introduced the 30-hour entitlement and why we are investing £3.6 billion in early years this year. Breakfast and after-school clubs are also able to open and schools should be working to resume this provision from the start of this term. We have updated our guidance for providers. Any parent who may be struggling to find early years provision should contact their local authority, but I hope the hon. Lady will join me in welcoming the funding for maintained nursery schools, including three in her constituency.

[Official Report, 7 September 2020, Vol. 679, c. 352.]

Letter of correction from the Under-Secretary of State for Education, the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford):

An error has been identified in the response I gave to the hon. Member for Westminster North (Ms Buck).

The correct response should have been:

What steps he is taking to ensure the financial stability of early years providers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government will fund local authorities for our free childcare entitlements for the rest of this calendar year at the pre-covid levels of attendance, even if fewer children are present, so early years providers will continue to benefit from the planned £3.6 billion investment in the provision this financial year. We have also announced supplementary funding of up to £23 million for maintained nursery schools, which often care for higher numbers of disadvantaged pupils, and will continue to work with local authorities to monitor the sector.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but last week research was published by the TUC showing that four out of 10 working mothers either did not have or could not rely on childcare to enable them to return to work. Of those, a quarter could not rely on having a nursery place. Given that there is already a £660 million gap in early years funding, what is the Minister doing to make sure that we do not see a further loss of early years providers in the coming months?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Childcare is vital for working parents, which is why this Government introduced the 30-hour entitlement and why we are planning to spend over £3.6 billion on the entitlements this year. Breakfast and after-school clubs are also able to open and schools should be working to resume this provision from the start of this term. We have updated our guidance for providers. Any parent who may be struggling to find early years provision should contact their local authority, but I hope the hon. Lady will join me in welcoming the funding for maintained nursery schools, including three in her constituency.