Our fight for fairer funding
Why are we campaigning for fairer funding?
In 2016, the Government announced unfair funding rates for children eligible to claim 15 hours funding. We have one of the most important jobs, caring for and educating children and shaping their young minds. The pressure and responsibility our staff have is extremely high, and yet we’re in one of the lowest paid sectors; one of things we would be able to rectify if we received the appropriate level of funding. The petition surpassed its target of 10,000 signatures by receiving 26,120 signatures! Our voices were beginning to be heard…
The fight continued following the launch of the 30 hours funding scheme by the Government in 2017, with the aim of giving more 3 & 4 year olds access to early education and supporting working parents.
It is a common misconception that when parents claim funding it allows for ‘Free childcare’. This misconception stems from the Government’s misleading advertising behind 2, 3 and 4 year old funding which is available through the local authority for eligible families.
At all of our Tops nurseries we provide high-quality Early Education and Care to our children, and we’re pleased that the Government’s 30-hours childcare policy, which was rolled out in 2017, means that more 3 and 4 year-olds can benefit from our services.
However, funding across the South Coast is less than the cost of delivery, and this puts our future at risk. This is why we continue to work with our local MP’s to campaign for a more sustainable future for childcare providers and parents.
What we have done so far?
Our Managing Director has played a crucial role in leading an APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) to feedback the issues childcare providers and actively campaigns on behalf of the sector. Click here to take a look at some photos from one of our Lobby Days! You can also read Cheryl’s personal perspective on a previous APPG for Childcare and Early Education in Parliament here.
Local MP’s across the South and South West have been invited into Tops Day Nurseries settings to see what nursery life is like on the floor, whilst discussing funding and business rates with our managers and directors. Find out what MP Simon Hoare got up to during his pre-covid visit to Tops Gillingham here!
When day nurseries across the UK were struggling to pay for dwindling numbers of qualified staff, with underfunded government “free” places and parents finding day nursery fees increasingly unaffordable, Tops Day Nurseries launched a petition to highlight the unfair divide between nurseries business rates vs schools. Half the day nurseries in the country were already running at a loss yet nurseries were faced with local authorities really twisting the knife, increasing business rates by staggering amounts. The fight is still ongoing to refund the business rates and VAT just like schools!
Government Funding Update 2021/2022: Challenges and Opportunities in Childcare
In addition to our journey, let’s dive into some important news about government funding in 2021/2022. On December 17, 2020, the government announced plans to increase the hourly funding rate starting from April 2021. They’ve added 8p per hour for 2-year-old places and 6p per hour for 3 and 4-year-old places.
However, our Managing Director, Cheryl Hadland, expressed her concerns regarding this increase. She pointed out, ‘My problem is that the pathetic increase will not fund the pay increases that we need to make for minimum wage, never mind the living wage. It’s very difficult for us to value and retain staff with this lack of support from the government, and beleaguered parents are having to try and find more funds for childcare when some are already paying more in childcare than they do in rent or mortgage.
In summary, we’ve made progress, but there’s still more work to be done!
Childcare Funding Changes: 2024-2025
Calling all working parents! Get ready for an exciting revolution in childcare support! Starting April 2024, working parents of 2-year-olds can access 15 hours of childcare. But that’s not all!
By September 2025, working parents of children under 5 will enjoy a fantastic 30 hours per week. These changes promise more flexibility and support for you and your little ones, paving the way for a brighter future.
Comment from Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA):
“It is beyond disappointing that the Government has only seen fit to increase the hourly rate for funded childcare by a few pence per child.
“For three and four year old places, the additional 6p per hour will give providers an extra £1.14 per week per child. This doesn’t even cover a pack of baby wipes. Early years educators were praised by Ofsted’s Chief Inspector this week for their ‘resilience and creativity’ in giving our youngest children the best learning experiences they can and supporting their development and wellbeing. And this is clearly not recognised as valuable by government.
“The guidance linked to today’s announcement stating the Government will no longer fund early years providers from January at pre-Covid levels is really the last straw for childcare businesses.
“The Secretary of State for Education appears not to care about the early years sector and is treating providers appallingly compared with schools. At every turn he is giving additional financial support to schools for staff absences, for cleaning products, for additional resources, but nothing for early years.
“To give early years providers this news as they are about to close for Christmas, knowing they will have to be on standby in case there are any reported cases of Covid in their nurseries from Christmas Eve, just shows a lack of respect for their hard work and dedication throughout this pandemic.
“Last week official figures showed there were 61% of the usual numbers of children in nursery. So their parental income has dropped while their operating costs have risen. The one month extension to the furlough scheme is of little help to childcare businesses who are suffering a staffing crisis and need their employees in work.
“They can’t square this circle. According to the DfE’s own survey published today, only 42% of providers believe they can continue to run their setting. To then reduce the funding lifeline which is keeping most of these businesses afloat is disgraceful.
“Nurseries have been the fourth emergency service throughout this pandemic – supporting the development of children but also enabling key workers to do their job. Lose the nurseries and you lose a crucial part of economic infrastructure.
“This Government must put children first which means supporting those who support the children. Pulling the rug out from under the early years sector adds insult to injury.”
What’s Coming in 2024-2025?
Amidst these ongoing challenges and uncertainties, we are thrilled to bring you some exciting news regarding upcoming changes in childcare support. Starting in April 2024 and gradually expanding until September 2025, a significant transformation in childcare funding is set to take place.
This expansion will empower most working families with little ones under the age of 5 by granting them access to a full 30 hours of childcare support. This means more flexibility and opportunities for parents, providing continuous support for your little ones’ crucial early developmental years.
We are enthusiastic about sharing this positive change with you as we work towards a brighter future for childcare. These developments mark a significant step forward in ensuring accessible and high-quality childcare for parents, contributing to the well-being and development of your little ones. As we navigate through these challenging times, we remain dedicated to supporting you and your precious children every step of the way.