DfE Rejects Multiple Recommendations Proposed by the Education Committee
The cross-party Education Committee conducted an inquiry and presented a report in July, which included several recommendations to support the childcare and early years sector. The Government accepted four of these recommendations in full, partially accepted 11, and rejected or failed to respond to eight. Some of the rejected recommendations include:
• Scrap business rates for childcare settings.
• Make VAT zero-rated on business purchases.
• Conduct a review of Tax-Free Childcare.
The Government explained that they have frozen business rates for the next five years and that rate relief schemes already offer discounts to childcare providers and others. They also stated that there are no plans to change VAT terms. The Government did not fully accept the recommendation to collaborate with childcare providers and local authorities to establish the hourly funding rate for the universal 30 hours entitlements. These two decisions will be a disappointment to the sector that has consistently been making the case for the proposals to be adopted.
One thing the DfE did not directly address was the call to prioritise career development for early years practitioners as a way to improve staff retention. They mentioned plans for a national campaign to generate interest in the sector and efforts to remove barriers to entry by ensuring suitable and easily understandable qualifications, as well as introducing new apprenticeships for becoming a childcare professional.
Throughout the sector, leading voices expressed disappointment with the Government's rejection of many significant recommendations, which they believe missed an opportunity to address major challenges in the sector and failing to implement meaningful changes to address the sector's challenges.
The committee will continue to advocate for government action to support this vital sector. They hope the Government will address these concerns in their Autumn Statement, but the limited action taken following the inquiry is a blow to both the committee and the sector. You can read the Government’s response to the report here.