Local MP and Shadow Early Years Minister Tracy Brabin, has this week called Government to account over their failings on implementing the 30 hour free childcare policy.
Speaking from the despatch box during an Urgent Question she had secured on the matter, Tracy Brabin accused Ministers of leaving parents waiting in “limbo”, arguing that Government’s handling of the policy has been “shrouded in secrecy, misinformation and mayhem”.
The deadline for working parents to apply for 30 hours free childcare for the first term was midnight on the 31st of August. Parents have consistently faced problems with obtaining their access codes owing to technical problems with the HMRC administered system. Meanwhile, childcare providers have raised concerns that the hourly rate for childcare to be paid by Government is less than the going rate, leaving questions about whether or not they can remain viable.
During the Urgent Question, the Shadow Minister spoke of her conversations with nursery providers, many of whom who are now having to charge for extras such as such as food, nappies and activities to pay their staff and remain viable, because the 30 hours scheme had “had a negative financial impact on providers”. During questioning the Minister revealed that 29% of parents with eligibility codes are yet to secure a funded place.
MP for Batley and Spen and Shadow Minister for Early Years, Tracy Brabin said:
“I am deeply disappointed that Government have failed to properly fund and implement the 30 hour free childcare policy. Delivered properly, it could have been of real help to eligible families.
“From beginning to end, the application process was not fit for purpose – parents were not able to get their code, settings were run ragged trying to help parents, and parents remain in limbo whilst nurseries find themselves having to charge for extras to make up for the shortfall in funding.
“It’s disappointing we had to drag the Minister to the chamber to answer our basic questions. Now is the time for transparency and for Ministers to step up and ensure that the chaos caused during implementation does not continue”.