Cornwall Council calls for more funding for early years

Following  the launch of a government campaign to encourage more parents to apply for up to 30 hours free child care, Cornwall Council is calling on Government to properly fund the scheme so that child care providers are supported and residents get the full benefit.

A study produced by the independent research agency Ceeda shows that almost half of providers are saying they are forced to make savings by cutting back on learning resources (43%). Nearly one in five said they have lowered the quality of food they give to children (19%). 

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Cabinet Member for Children, Wellbeing and Public Health, Sally Hawken, said: “Although we applaud what the scheme is trying to do; make childcare more accessible and helping parents back to work, we need to make sure that early years providers are not missing out.  Cornwall is one of the most deprived areas of Western Europe, but we have seen funding for children’s services squeezed for many years.

“Early years providers should not be forced to make tough decisions because of a poorly thought out government policy. We have seen the national living wage increase, pension contributions raise and business rates rise, but government funding remains stagnant in all areas of child care and Cornwall continues to lag behind other areas of the UK.”

The childcare scheme, which was launched in 2017, is available to 1.5 million families across the UK where the parents are earning at least the national minimum wage or living wage for 16 hours a week. The new awareness campaign has been launched because its estimated over a million families across the UK are not accessing the scheme.

Sally continued: “The changes that were made a couple of years ago to the scheme meant more parents became eligible for the support. High quality childcare not only helps children to get the best start in life, it supports many parents who want or need to work.

“But the government needs to take action and ensure that the level of funding is consistent and keeps in line with inflation. If they don’t, then we could see early years providers forced to make tough decisions about increasing fees or considering their sustainability.”