For a long time now we have heard and seen the problems facing childcare providers, childcare is at crisis level. Many many providers have closed their doors and still are.

WHY you ask? The reason is because the government refuse to pay providers the rate per child to ensure that ALL providers’ businesses are sustainable.

In Sefton for instance, providers are being paid £4/hour per child, in other areas provides are getting less, but it costs providers approximately £5.50/£6 per hour in order to put that service into place.

The government are stating loudly to all parents that they are getting FREE funding, however it is not free because the providers are being forced to pay for the shortfall out of their own pockets.

If you went into a shop and only offered to pay for half of the goods in your basket because you had a voucher for 50% off, would the shop owner turn around and say they were happy to give you the rest of the items for free? I think not, but THAT is what the government are forcing providers to do.

The government have so far refused to put in any more money, so what is the solution you ask?

Well one solution is for the providers to ask parents to pay the top up charge of £1.50/hour, but this has been banned by the government, as they want to be seen as providing FREE funding, even if it means putting the childcare industry in crisis.

The Service Level Agreement in Sefton regarding  funding states:

“It is not intended to cover the cost of meals, consumables, additional hours or additional services.The provider can charge for meals and snacks as part of a free entitlement place and they can also charge for consumables such as nappies or sun cream and for services such as trips and yoga.

These charges must be voluntary for the parent. Where parents are unable or unwilling to pay for meals and consumables, providers who choose to offer the free entitlements are responsible for setting their own policy on how to respond, with options including waiving or reducing the cost of meals and snacks or allowing parents to supply their own meals.”

So then it could help for providers to charge parents for all the ‘consumables, snack etc which the funding does not cover. However the government refuse to take out the clause which states this is voluntary. So in the same sentence it states the provider CAN charge for these items, then it states these charges can only be VOLUNTARY.

Talk about contradiction!

Every part of the childcare sector works hard to ensure parents and their children are given the best possible service. They go above and beyond every day to meet the changing needs of the families they serve.

Due to the government many of these workers are still on £7.50/hour for a career they love doing and have spent a long time gaining qualifications for.

Due to the government many owners of these businesses cannot even take a personal wage, due to the shortage of funding paid by the government and the restrictions placed on their businesses.

It has been proven that the early years of a child’s life before the age of eight, are the ones which see the most rapid phase of development and growth. These years are so important, as they give the foundations for self-esteem, moral outlook, social skills, cognitive skills and perception of the world.

Early Years educators should be more acknowledged by this government as they are setting the vital foundations for a balanced and cohesive society.

Every single childcare provider should refuse to accept the government’s highly unbalanced and unfair regulations on how we run our businesses. The government are treating the childcare sector badly and making childcare not economically viable.

It is time we all took control of how we run our businesses and say NO to the government’s out of date proposals.

The low funding rates are government frozen now till 2020 at a rate too low to manage.
The Living Wage goes up, pensions have been set up by providers, the cost of supplies needed to run the business goes up, business rates rise constantly – the final cards have been played by many outstanding providers.

What is required urgently?

1. A call on all providers to stand together and shout a big loud NO and take back their say on how their businesses are run.

2. To the government-pay us a decent rate so we can be sustainable and/or take away the restraints you have put on us re charging for services and top up fees, then leave us alone to pick up the pieces you have shattered of this industry, before it is too late.

So to the government’s Children’s Minister Robert Goodwill, Bill Esterson MP, Damien Moore MP and all the other MP’s who can join in the fight to put this right I ask:

“What are you going to do next week to put this wrong right? Are you going to right this terrible wrong or are you going to continue hiding under  the stones of ignorance, until there is no childcare left to offer UK families?”

By Cath Regan, UK Childcare Provider