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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

9,000 childcare places to be created with early learning funding boost

Written by Shaun Connolly

More than 9,000 childcare places are to be created as part of a £50 million boost for early learning.

The money will fund capital grants in order to help nurseries, pre-schools and playgroups invest in new buildings and upgrade facilities.

A further £5 million is to go to organisations helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds, or with additional needs, to access early education.

Minister for the Early Years Caroline Dinenage (pictured) said: "This investment will deliver more childcare places to working parents, giving them the benefits of 30 hours free childcare while giving their children high-quality early education that sets them up for life.

"This is backed by our record £6 billion investment in childcare per year by 2020."

However, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, expressed concern about Government progress in achieving its ambition to provide working families with 30 hours of free childcare from September.

"While extra funding to support the 30-hour offer is of course welcome, a further 9,000 childcare places for a scheme that Government says requires 390,000 in total - and we estimate requires 500,000 - simply isn't going to address the very valid concerns that have been raised about the viability of the scheme.

"With less than half of childcare providers currently committed to delivering 30-hours places, and many of those opting into the scheme considering limiting the number of places they deliver, we know that capacity is going to be a real issue when the offer rolls out in September - and the fact that this additional money has now been found suggests the Government does too."

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: "Parents and providers will rightly be asking why this policy still isn't ready with only a few months to go until the rollout of the 30 hours offer.

"The Tories' inability to properly plan for their childcare promise has led to chaos and confusion throughout the sector. The constant re-announcements of a few more places here and there make it clear that they still don't have a clue how to deliver on this key election commitment."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) John Stillwell / PA Wire.