Sector Awaits Further Details of Childcare Changes

Little girl toddler playing indoors with childminder

Sector Awaits Further Details of Childcare Changes

Following last month’s budget announcements, the childcare sector in England is anxious to find out how the sweeping changes will be implemented. While some are being put in place swiftly, with funding for Out of School clubs and new childminders expected to be available from September, there has been less movement on the biggest ticket item, the expansion of 30 hours to include 1 and 2 year olds.

This is not especially surprising. The announcement was made by the Chancellor, not the Department for Education who is likely to be responsible for its practical implementation, and HMRC will likely play a role too in ensuring that the expected additional revenue is realised. The policy will likely require new legislation, or at least complicated statutory instruments to make law, as well as new processes to actually implement it.

Moreover, to be a success, the policy will likely require tens of thousands of new childcare practitioners, people who right now simply do not exist. The good news is that this perhaps creates an incentive like never before for the government to get to grips with the problem of childcare recruitment. With some studies suggesting that settings will become dependent on the entitlement for 80% of their revenue, funding will need to be sufficient to ensure high quality staff can be attracted.

One big unknown however is the date of the next general election. While it does not legally have to take place until January 2025, this is still nine months before the new entitlement is expected to roll out. At the time of writing, opinion polls give Kier Starmer’s Labour Party a substantial lead over Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives. In the event Labour were to form a government, they might have different ideas about how to reform the sector. However, as providers who are already fielding calls from parents anxious to take advantage of the new provision will know, abandoning the policy would be a deeply unpopular move!