Dear Prime Minister…
I have written many letters over the past 10 years or so, some to my MP’s and more recently some to the former Prime Minister. On every occasion, they are passed to the ‘relevant department’ and I receive a reply telling me how much Government is spending on my sector but never any answers that actually address my concerns.
So, this time I am just going to ask for something that is easily provided and does not require an answer of ‘how much is being spent’. All I am asking for is fairness.
You see, I appreciate that every sector is under pressure and under-funded; NHS, education and my sector of childcare to name a few. However, as a sector we are also being un-fairly treated:
- There is no VAT due on children’s food or clothes (even designer ones which are not a necessity), they are Zero-rated. Childcare, now a necessity for parents rather than a choice, is not zero-rated for VAT but desperately needs to be in order to stop the spiralling costs.
- The Government have put in place a new policy, 30hrs of ‘FREE’ childcare for all eligible 3 & 4 year olds – this is not only unfair but claiming it is ‘FREE’ is potentially an illegal term, something that the campaign Champagne Nurseries for Lemonade Funding are investigating. To claim a childcare place is ‘FREE’ would mean the Government would have to fully cover the cost of all places at each setting’s published fees. At present the Government are only providing a set hourly rate which means, in most cases, the places are under-funded. I am simply asking for you to remove the word “FREE’ and make it clear to parents the amount they will be receiving (although paid directly to the setting) which they can put ‘towards’ the cost of their chosen childcare and settings will NOT be out of pocket.
- The Government have put in place a development programme – Early Years Foundation Stage, which all settings except Rudolph Steiner settings have to adhere to. This is grossly unfair. We have been actively penalized by Ofsted Officers as we do not insist on ‘formal education’ and use a child-centered, nature & sensory based programme that surpasses the EYFS requirements instead. In my last inspection at one of my nurseries the Inspector did not even enter my Under 2yr olds area or acknowledge the level of care provided – we were penalized for not using ‘formal education’ instead. For any nursery that can demonstrate a clear individual programme they too, like Rudolph Steiner, should be able to be exempt from the EYFS programme. As the EYFS is currently responsible for the developmental regression we are seeing in our Under 5 year olds!
I have owned and operated nurseries for 24years and never before has the industry I love so passionately been in crisis to the point of its potential downfall, something that the Government clearly does not want as we are crucial to many of the Governments pledges and policies. I have also attached a link here to my blog on the Huffington Post that includes other issues facing all aspects of motherhood, childhood and childcare that would also ensure the support of families.
I appreciate my first point may have financial implications but the others do not and yet could have a huge impact on the sustainability of the whole sector. If nothing else, please remove the word ‘FREE’ from the 30hrs policy and allow settings to charge a ‘top-up’ to equal their published fees.
Angela J Spencer – Director
Angels at Play Nurseries
Little Angels Nurseries Ltd