Havering nurseries’ warning over free childcare plans

A teacher and children at a nursery, nationally less than half of nurseries are likely to offer the

A teacher and children at a nursery, nationally less than half of nurseries are likely to offer the extend free childcare places for pre-schoolers to 30 hours a week, amid major concerns about funding, research suggests. Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire/PA Images - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Parents are at risk of paying higher fees to top up free childcare hours and may not be guaranteed spaces, nurseries have warned.

Free childcare is set to raise from 15 to 30 hours per week next year but nurseries say they may not be able to provide the service due to a funding shortfall.

Nursery leaders claim the money provided from government is not reflective of their actual costs adding that they already lose thousands of pound each year.

Denise Bailey, owner of Mary Poppins Day Nursery, Crow Lane, Rush Green, called the situation “unacceptable”.

She said: “The idea is brilliant, but doubling the entitlement will have a catastrophic effect on many settings.”

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The current rate paid by government, is £3.88 an hour. Councils keep eight per cent for administration costs and about £3.50 is passed to nurseries.

Lisa De Lucio, nursery manager at Oakfields Montessori Nursery, Heath Park Road, Gidea Park, said her nursery’s actual rate is £4.80 per hour.

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“The scheme is fantastic for parents but the government should pay the correct money,” she said.

To recoup financial losses nurseries can either subsidise its costs or pass them onto parents.

Nursery leaders have also expressed concerns that they may not have the space to cater for the increase in hours.

Cllr Meg Davies, Havering Council’s cabinet member for children and learning, said there is flexibility for parents to use the 30 hours across more than one nursery.

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