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Campaigners to continue fight for fair childcare funding model

PUBLISHED: 09:45 12 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:45 12 January 2018

Parents and childcare providers join campaigning Labour councillors before a county council meeting in October 2017. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Parents and childcare providers join campaigning Labour councillors before a county council meeting in October 2017. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Suffolk childcare providers have welcomed a payment increase – but warned the fight for sustainable funding is not over.

Following yesterday’s meeting with the Schools Forum, Suffolk County Council agreed to increase the hourly rate paid to providers from £3.87 to £4 from April.

It followed warnings the current funding model was unsustainable and put nurseries at risk.

Problems arose in September when the Government increased the number of free hours of weekly childcare from 15 to 30. Providers warned the payments from Government did not cover their costs. In Suffolk, which has seen a reduction in funding for early years provision the deficit for providers is said to have been even greater. Yesterday’s motion to SCC’s Schools Form set to address that deficit.

Donna Row, who runs a Suffolk nursery and leads the Champagne Nurseries, Lemonade Funding campaign, welcomed the decision – but warned more is needed.

“We are delighted – it’s wonderful news,” she said.

“However going forward, with increases in pension contribution and minimum wage, 13p per hour per child is still not good enough.

“We understand the council has budgets of its own but we want to know will Suffolk keep fighting central government for more funding?”

Mrs Row said her group would be lobbying the Government’s new early years minister Nadhim Zahawi - the fourth minister the group has dealt with in two years.

Suffolk Labour’s children’s services spokesman Helen Armitage, who worked with the campaign group, also welcomed the increase but said a “radical review” of funding by central government was needed.

Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw, spokesman for children’s services for the Liberal Democrat, Green, and Independent groups said nurseries would have closed without the increase - but more money was needed.

Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services said he was pleased to increase the payments despite a reduction in government funding, which meant 96.2 per cent of funding goes straight to providers.

He said the fairer allocation of deprivation and inclusion funding meant money will go to children who need it most.

“We recognise that more needs to be done,” he added “I will continue to lobby the government for fairer funding for children in Suffolk.”

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