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Nearly 25,000 extra nursery places in London are needed to meet the pledge made by the Deputy Prime Minister, according to the Daycare Trust.
London Councils which represents the capital’s 33 local authorities, commissioned , a national charity which campaigns for affordable childcare, to examine how to make the entitlement for free part-time early years education for the poorest 20 per cent of two-year olds work in the capital.
The report 'Supporting London local government to deliver free early education for disadvantaged two year olds' revealed that a minimum of 24,100 new places are needed to meet the pledge.
This will rise further to 31,700 places by September 2014.
Mayor Jules Pipe, chair of London Councils, said that the “research shows that councils are thinking innovatively about how to create the places needed to deliver this new entitlement. However, London has more births, more poverty and more expensive childcare costs than elsewhere in the UK.”
He added that “the Government needs to take this into account”.
Anand Shukla, chief executive of Daycare Trust, believes that the policy of free early years education for disadvantaged two-year-olds has “the potential to boost the life chances of the most deprived children in London but finding an additional 25,000 early education places for two year olds is proving a huge challenge for local authorities”.
He added that the “shortfall in day-to-day funding, for providers and for local authorities, risks compromising this ambitious policy” and said: “A small amount of extra funding would get the buy-in of providers and the essential local authority infrastructure needed to make this scheme a success.”
Factors adversely affecting the capital, including higher levels of poverty, rising birth rates, migration and higher staff and property costs, mean that the costs of delivering the scheme is significantly higher than elsewhere in the UK.
To meet this challenge, the report outlines how a number of boroughs are taking innovative approaches to deliver the offer.
This includes augmenting early years education with home learning and parental support. This eases pressure on childcare providers and provides targeted and integrated support to deprived families. The report makes a number of recommendations to government about how best to make the programme work.
As well as supporting combining early years education with targeted parental support, the Government should provide sufficient funding to London Boroughs to allow providers to be paid £8 per hour, said the report.
Based on government allocations, providers will receive a significantly lower average of £5.71 per hour if all revenue funding goes to providers.
The Department for Education has made available £534m nationally in 2013-14 to provide the 20 per cent most deprived two year olds with 570 hours of free childcare from 2013.
London has been allocated £86.5m revenue funding and £33.9m capital funding. In 2014-15, £760m will be available nationally when the entitlement is increased to cover 40 per cent of the most disadvantaged two year olds.
The Deputy Prime Minister announced an additional £100m of capital funding to expand provision of two year old places. London local authorities received a total of £23m of this funding.
The report can be found at: www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/policylobbying/children/briefings/twoyearoldentitlment.htm