The Government is alienating the very people it needs onside right now to make the best of 30 hours - the armies of dedicated nursery professionals up and down the country, frustrated and fed up with red tape and helplines, forms and codes.
While The Tories Restrict Childcare To Cut Costs, Labour Will Build A Truly Universal Childcare System
The shortage of childcare is now so great that the average parent in Britain is spending almost twice as much on part-time childcare as they do on food each year. So when the Tories promised 30 free hours of childcare a week in their 2015 manifesto, many expected it to make a real difference. But, like so many Tory promises, it has not been delivered.
It's less than five months to go until the full roll out of the Government's 30 'free' nursery hours offer to three and four-year-olds with working parents in England.
This year has been wildly unpredictable for UK and global politics. Everything is different. Yet in many ways, little has changed - at least for the UK nursery sector, which is bracing itself for a watershed year ahead. Early years care and education has been a hot topic all year, rarely off the agenda in our parliaments and offices of government.
The nursery sector relies on people. Bright, brilliant people who love the job they do. Early years education and childcare attracts great candidates, despite lower wage expectations than in other careers.
Majority of Nurseries 'Unlikely' to Offer Places to Meet 30 Hours Demand - but Government Still has Time to Change Their Minds
According to Department for Education figures, the private, voluntary and independent sector currently delivers funded places for 674,000 two, three and four-year-olds in England, providing 64% of three and four-year-olds with their free place.
The Government has costed the doubling of free childcare from 15 hours to 30 hours a week for three- and four-year-olds at £350 million a year. Meanwhile, experts within the sector suggest the real costs to Childcare providers at more like at £1.5billion a year- so who's right?
Armies of Parents Eager to Take All 30 Free Childcare Hours - but Could Nurseries Struggle to Get the Staff?
I'm sorry to say we're seeing situations in which lower-grade employees, who always wanted to work in childcare and picked it as their career of choice, are leaving because they can earn more at a supermarket, offering family-friendly hours and less pressure.
More Free Hours' Childcare Will Be a Worse Deal for UK Parents, Not Better, Unless Nurseries' Funding Rises
The major political parties are promising dramatic increases in free nursery provision. The Conservatives have raised their pledge to 30 free hours, more than Labour's 25 and the Liberal Democrats' 20 - all way more than the current 15 hours per week... This could be great news for parents - but only if the numbers add up.
Nurseries fear they will not receive the necessary funding to cope with a flagship Government plan to extend free childcare