Ministers urged to ‘rethink’ or ‘delay’ introduction of 30-hours free childcare
Nursery owners have called on the Government to “rethink” or “delay” the introduction of 30 hours free childcare for parents in England.
From September, parents of three and four-year-olds who work more than 16 hours a week and earn less than £100,000 a year will be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare per week – twice the existing level.
The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) says a survey of its members indicates around one in five plan to opt out of the scheme because they will be paid less than the cost of providing the places.
Ministers last week announced an extra £50m in capital to fund around 9,000 more childcare places ahead of the roll-out.
The Government claims that the policy amounts to £120 a week for all parents who qualify over the age of 25, and £122.50 for those aged 21-24.
NDNA chief executive Purnima Tanuku said: "We ask [ministers] to either seriously rethink this 'free' childcare policy or delay the full roll out for in-depth analysis to be done."
The NDNA says a shortfall in places could see 50,000 children frozen out of the scheme unless nurseries are given greater flexibility or the Government increases funding.
The group argues that they should be allowed to call for parents to pay extra for meals, activities, trips out and other areas.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education insisted that the policy is already working in the towns in which it is being piloted across the country.