Funding raised for nurseries and daycare centres

Scallywags Nursery in Suttons Lane, Hornchurch; inset, Emma Reynolds.

Scallywags Nursery in Suttons Lane, Hornchurch; inset, Emma Reynolds. - Credit: Scallywags Hornchurch/Ken Mears

Nurseries and daycare centres have been awarded much-needed extra funding, although one provider said having to “justify a 2p increase” was “soul-destroying”.

At a special meeting of Havering's Schools Funding Forum this week, hourly funding was raised from £5.68 to £5.76 for each two-year-old and from £5 to £5.02 for each three and four-year-old.

Earlier this month, Havering’s early years providers said they risked folding without more funding, warning this could leave parents without childcare when they returned to work.

Speaking at the meeting, Emma Reynolds of Scallywags Day Nursery in Hornchurch argued leftover early years funding from last year should have been used to help the sector this year.

She said: “The fact we are having to justify a 2p increase is soul-destroying. It’s better than nothing but it’s soul-destroying.

“I think I got a £500 grant when I spent £7,000 on personal protective equipment in the last six months.

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“Can we please look at the underspend? If that money was there (early years) could have had that as a grant. Going forward, I would like to see that money ring-fenced for early years.”

Forum members agreed that, in future, the council would discuss any such underspend with the borough’s early years providers “before any decisions are made on its use”.

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Forum chairman and Campion School headteacher Keith Williams told members they should take “a strategic view” when making funding decisions.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting, Ms Reynolds explained that the leftover funding not spent by early years last year was reallocated to the High Needs Block.

This money supports children who have an education, health and care plan (EHCP) to address their special needs.

She said: “Most children do not get their plan until just before (they go to) school… so the High Needs Block mainly benefits school settings. I think last year, there were only 50 EHCPs done for children in early years.”

She added she had been told early years providers would be receiving on-site Covid tests, one of their main requests earlier this month, from March 22.

She also said she was told the sector would receive grant money from the government in future but that the size of this was still uncertain.

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