Today’s spending review promised that the education budget will be protected and announced the new National Funding Formula for schools.

But currently funding for early years and childcare services is within the Direct Schools Grant (DSG) which covers the age range 2-16 years. The new funding formula will only relate to statutory school age, 5-16.

This means funding for services for children under five and their families will no longer be protected and will be within overall local authority funding which is to be cut by a further 10% in 2015-16.

This means funding for early years and childcare services for 2, 3 and 4 year olds is massively at risk. The government is passing the buck to local authorities.

Early years and childcare is already in crisis. Today’s announcement is just another nail in the coffin for quality affordable childcare for families. 26 June 2013

Labour shadow childcare minister Sharon Hodgson last week called for employers to do more to help their staff with childcare responsibilities – particularly by running workplace nurseries.

This was tried by the last Labour government with its workplace nursery initiative. Large sums of cash were on offer via regional development agencies to encourage employers to build nurseries and/or buy ‘space’ from existing childcare providers.

There was little interest from employers but most importantly very little interest from parents who much prefer childcare close to home. So why has this idea been floated again when there is evidence that this won’t work?

Of course there are some workplace nurseries – based at hospitals and universities for example - but employers can best help employees by offering childcare vouchers and flexible working and providing help in finding childcare.

The answer to providing additional affordable childcare places is utilising children’s centres better, by revitalising the many ‘ghost centres’ that now exist in communities. Of course there are other issues relating to funding but availability is and will continue to be an issue re places for two year olds.

It would be a disaster if Labour was to revert to policies that have failed in the past. We need more forward thinking. 24 June 2013

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