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Funding rule could slash 90 nurseries

PUBLISHED: 11:22 18 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:49 24 August 2010

PARENTS will struggle to find nursery care because of new government funding rules that will put the Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) sector in crisis, the Times can reveal. Many of the 90 PVI nurseries in Brent could be forced to close or stop

PARENTS will struggle to find nursery care because of new government funding rules that will put the Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) sector in crisis, the Times can reveal.

Many of the 90 PVI nurseries in Brent could be forced to close or stop accepting government-funded children from September 2010 because they will no longer be able to charge top-up fees.

The 2006 Code of Practice for the Early Years Single Funding Formula guarantees 15 hours of free nursery care for all three and four-year-olds.

Dr Madhuri Davda of Pasture Place, Wembley, whose four-year-old son Eshan is at East Lane Montessori School, East Lane, Wembley, said: "Basically, if nurseries are not allowed to charge their top up fees they're going to struggle financially. This means that its going to have a detrimental impact on providing education for children, things like paying for sports equipment and paying teachers the extra money they deserve to get the qualifications that they need."

Mrs Gurpreet Ghag of Abbots Drive, Wembley, whose three-year-old daughter goes to East Lane Montessori School in East Lane, Wembley said: "Personally I don't think that I could afford to be paying the full whack. it would mean that I would have to go back to work or my child wouldn't be able to go to nursery."

Some state maintained nurseries fear that they will no longer be able to offer full-time places under the new system.

Anne-Marie True from the Save Our Nurseries campaign spoke at a meeting of Brent's PVI providers at the Gladstone Community Centre, Ansom Road, Dollis Hill on Thursday, December 3.

She said: "The nursery grant doesn't cover the costs of providing the service. The loss of top ups means that for many people their businesses will become unsustainable."

Cllr Bob Wharton, Brent's lead member for children and families, said: "If the government wants to change the top up arrangement or prohibit top ups, there is a risk that provision will be disrupted unless the government overall puts more money into the system."

A Department for Children, Schools and Families spokeswoman said: "We have made it very clear to local authorities that top-up fees linked to delivery of the free entitlement are completely unacceptable.

"The free entitlement is designed to offer accessible, high quality childcare to benefit all families, and parents and carers should not be expected to 'top-up' something that was created to be universally free.


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