Education charity warns introduction of 30 hours free childcare will cause “chaos”

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Childcare charities are warning parents that the Government’s 30-hour free childcare scheme is “doomed for failure”, just days before it launches. 

From September, working parents in the UK will be entitled to an extra 15 free hours of childcare, on top of the universal 15 hours they currently have.

A record £6bn a year is being invested into childcare, but many nursery providers have claimed the amount being paid by the government will not be enough to cover the costs.

The scheme includes more than £300m a year to subsidise hourly rates paid by parents.

In a recent survey by the Pre-school Learning Alliance revealed that 74 per cent of responding nurseries feel that the scheme is underfunded and wouldn’t cover costs of maintaining the scheme.

Of the 1,400 nurseries surveyed, 38 per cent did not believe their business would still be sustainable in a year’s time, whilst 42 per cent were not confident in meeting demands for free spaces.

Over half said they would increase costs for children’s meals, nappies and trips. One in five of the nurseries said they wouldn’t offer the free thirty hours because they cannot afford it.

Nurseries are also having to limit the number of places they can offer, often to just one or two children, and restrict the times when the free hours are used.

Carol Medcalf, owner of Carol Jane Montessori Nursery School in Enfield, north London, said the scheme was “doomed to failure”.

Medcalf said due to every childcare provider having different overheads, business models and approaches, the scheme could never work.

She said: “If I ran my nursery for the free entitlement alone I would have to make so many cuts that I would rather not offer the service.”

Robert Goodwill, the minister for children and families, said the Department for Education would be investing £6bn every year in childcare by 2020. He said the scheme would save parents up to £5,000 a year per child:

“We know from our evaluation that providers are committed to offering 30 hours and the additional hours are having a really positive impact on families, taking huge pressures off families’ finances.”

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