The national scheme that allows for parents of three and four-year olds to benefit from 30 hours of free childcare per week isn't being sufficiently funded, leading to low income families missing out, according to MPs.
Speaking at a parliamentary enquiry, director of the Portico Nursery Group, Nicole Politis, said low-income families weren't seeing the benefit of the scheme, while nurseries in more affluent areas appear to be thriving.
"Three years ago, nurseries in these deprived areas were completely full. Now, those in affluent areas are full, and in deprived areas the numbers of children attending are so low that I'm having to close them.
"Sadly, some parents cannot afford the additional fees, and this is being exacerbated by the roll-out of Universal Credit. In the end, this means that the [30-hours] scheme is not always reaching the most vulnerable families," she explained.
The report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Childcare and Early Education said, "Should this trend continue, we risk facing a situation where only wealthy families are able to access childcare services, leading to significant reductions in educational opportunities for children, as well as more challenges to parents looking to go back into work."
The scheme originally rolled out in 2017 and allowed for just 15 hours a week. Since it began, the National Day Nurseries Association has stated that early years providers are shutting down at an increased rate - a whopping 66 per cent.
Tulip Siddiq MP, chairwoman of APPG, said that there was "a significant body of evidence" that shows this has all gone downhill due to "government policies." [BBC]
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