Government criticised for funding secrecy
Every childcare business knows that rising costs are a fact of life, whether it’s day to day groceries and supplies, administration and admin fees or staff wages, making sure ends meet is a daily concern for many providers. The problem is complicated by the sector’s increased reliance on government subsidised childcare, which cannot legally be topped up. As a result, if the sums paid by local authorities do not rise with costs, childcare providers can be left out of pocket.
This year, the government has increased the childcare budget in England by £44 million, which it claims is sufficient to cover the increase to the minimum wage which took effect in April. Since the minimum wage increase is also mandated by the government, this seems only fair. Children’s Minister, Vicky Ford, promised that the government would provide its calculations. However, when the Early Years Alliance filed a Freedom of Information Request for the details, the government refused to comply. In response the Alliance has now filed a complaint with the ICO.
The Department for Education has said that it will publish the document in question and will consider the Alliance’s appeal. It also maintains that the rise, which it says equates to 8p an hour for the 2-year-old entitlement and 6p per hour – for the vast majority of areas – for the 3 and 4 year old entitlement, is more than enough to cover the increase in wages. However, many in the sector are critical and question why the calculations behind this decision are still being kept under wraps.