Voice Community has welcomed the Early Years Alliance’s success in obtaining documents in a Freedom of Information request that reveal that early years funding rates for 2020/21 were less than two-thirds of what government officials estimated to be the true cost of ‘fully funding’ the sector, that ministers knew the inadequate level of investment proposed would result in higher prices for parents of younger children, and that nurseries, pre-schools and childminders would be forced to use maximum statutory adult-to-child ratios.
Deborah Lawson, Assistant General Secretary with Community Union (Voice Community early years and education section), said:
“The Alliance should be congratulated for its success in finally obtaining these figures.
“We have all known for a long time that the sector is woefully underfunded. These figures are hard evidence of the extent of that underfunding, and the Government’s knowledge of the situation.
“There is already an early years recruitment and retention crisis, and that will only get worse unless the Government acts now.
“Staff need a national pay and conditions and career structure.
“We call on the Government to invest in the early years sector, which has a vital role in both children’s development and in post-pandemic economic recovery.”
In its recent report, The Future of Education, Voice Community highlighted early years members’ concerns, including that:
- staff in the early years sector do not feel valued;
- pay in the early years sector is too low;
- funding in the sector is inadequate and inconsistent; and
- young children have lost social skills during the pandemic.
The report’s recommendations included:
- value the sector with appropriate training, qualifications, and funding;
- ensure a fair wage is paid to every worker in the sector;
- fix the “free entitlement” so it is truly free and works for both early years settings and parents;
- career development for workers in early years;
- a focus on children’s social skills and mental wellbeing; and
- a return to learning through play.