Rupa Huq, MP for the Acton area, visited Hungry Caterpillars, Acton branch on the 12th June 2019 to discuss the issues around the current funding rate for 3 & 4 year olds. The action week is led by the Early Years Alliance and aims to raise awareness of the growing shortfall in funding as costs continue to rise for providers. It is anticipated that by engaging local MP’s in the issues surrounding a static funding rate (frozen until 2020) despite increased rents, rates, living wage and pension costs that concerns over future viability within the sector will be addressed.
Clare Porter, Senior Manager at Hungry Caterpillars met with Rupa and discussed the various challenges we face given the wide range of support we offer to our children and families. In addition Clare shared how the shortfall in funding is currently met by increased costs for fee paying parents and the remaining shortfall being subsidised by the nursery.
A recent research project published by Ceeda in June 19, reveals that the national funding deficit is currently at £662 million. With the average cost of delivery nationally for 3 & 4 year olds at £5.36 per hour and the average delivery cost for 2 years olds at £7.22 per hour. The rate we receive from Ealing for 3 & 4 year olds of £4.63 is already .77p per hour less than the national average. Whilst the rate for 2 year olds of £5.93 is a massive £1.23 per hour less than the national average delivery cost. Ealing is undoubtedly more expensive to operate in than other parts of the country which would indicate higher delivery cost than the Ceeda report states.
Clare shared with the MP what that shortfall means in real financial terms to our nursery in Acton and concerns of the long term impact and threat to viability.
The difference between the average delivery cost and the funding rate we receive is a deficit of £438.90 per child per annum. The difference between the funding rate and our hourly rate is a deficit of over £1000.00 per child per annum. Long term this is not sustainable and already nationally 100’s of setting have closed as a result of the funding rate. Clare went onto explain the damage the use of ‘FREE’ has had on the sector. “Parents are being misled it is not free it is subsidised by providers. If the government can’t afford to pay the required rate due to cuts and budgets then providers should be able to charge a top up to make it viable, however current legislation does not allow us to do that”.
Rupa took on board all the facts and questions Clare presented and reassured her that she will be taking these back to discuss with other members of parliament.