News Stories Dominating Headlines in the Early Years Sector 2023
Diving back into the news stories from the early years sector, this time we shift focus to the headlines throughout the year. In this latest news round-up, we discuss….
NDNA Respond to Chancellor’s Spring Budget
In the Spring we saw NDNA respond to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget, stating all children over the age of nine months are entitled to 30 hours of funded childcare. Additionally mentioning a further £204m investment for September, extending the 30-hour scheme for three to four-year-olds. The Spring package for childcare reform further included a lift on Universal Credit childcare payments from £646 a month to £951 for one child and £1630 for 2 children, adding the payments will be made upfront instead of in arrears.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA responded to the changes to Universal Credit, mentioning that the plan to improve is welcomed by the childcare sector. The NDNA has been fighting for reform for years, due to feedback from parents and providers mentioning the complexities of the system can become a barrier to taking up work and accessing high-quality early education places for children. Purnima stated the Spring Budget comes with relief as the NDNA has “given evidence to various Parliamentary inquiries and supported a legal challenge to the upfront payments system.”
Government responds to EYFS consultation and announces capital funding for expansion
In October, the Government responded to measures proposed in the EYFS consultation, most intended to go ahead but some being scrapped or delayed. In the Government’s response they mentioned the removal of level three staff to have level two maths to be counted in ratios, managers in childcare settings are still required to have level two maths. In addition, childcare providers are to consider ‘experience-based’ routes for those with similar qualifications working in the care sector. The changes open up further opportunities for recruitment within the childcare sector as level three qualifications in the care sector reflect a childcare qualification.
The new EYFS is due to be published and implemented in January, subject to parliamentary approval to be ready for April 2024. When speaking to childcare providers, the NDNA disclosed staffing and recruitment as a main concern within the childcare sector, mentioning bringing forward experienced-based routes can assist in workplace challenges, as individuals with relevant skills and qualifications have the opportunity to work in the sector. The changes around level two maths are welcomed, as entering and progression within the workforce has been historically difficult for some people.
Autumn Budget: Increase to the minimum wage will 'tip many early years settings over the edge'
The childcare sector warned that the Autumn Budget announcement to increase the national living wage by the Chancellor could risk the livelihood of many early years settings. The Early Years Alliance mentioned that the news would’ve sparked concern among providers.
The Spring Budget was highlighted as insufficient to support the years of underfunding, and was expected for the Autumn budget to provide financial support for the early years sector ensuring “affordable, quality and sustainable care and education.” However, it’s been accused that the Autumn Budget is aimed towards pubs, shops and the technology sector to benefit. Staff wages within the childcare sector account for three-quarters of provider costs, and the national living wage increase is likely to have a further impact on setting budgets according to Early Years Alliance.
And that’s a wrap for our December news roundup, be sure to keep an eye out for what’s coming next month.