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Government scraps early years expansion fund

By Rachel Lawler

The government has confirmed to Under 5 that its early years expansion fund has been scrapped. The plan was due to see £30 million made available to early years settings through low cost loans in a bid to help deliver the 30 hours offer.
The Department for Education was due to spend £10 million on the fund, with the additional £20 million provided by venture capitalists.
The DfE confirmed the news to Under 5, saying that the government would redirect the funding into other revenues to help providers more effectively.
Investment redirected
Robert Goodwill, minister for Children and Families, said: “We are making excellent progress in our mission to ensure as many families as possible have access to high-quality, affordable childcare. In 2016 we ran a £100 million early years capital bid round – awarding funding to over 350 projects across 123 local authorities.
“We want to continue to support local authorities – and enable them to support their providers to offer 30 hours free childcare, which is why we established the delivery support fund, backed by £8.65 million in funding, in November last year.”
Funding concerns
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “It’s disappointing to hear the government is shelving the early years investment fund, especially if it is to do so without a public announcement. However, the Alliance has always been clear that capital funding can only have a limited impact on the number of childcare places available to parents.”
“This is particularly true when current funding levels threaten to undermine the sector’s long-term sustainability and are already forcing many providers to close. If the government is serious about ensuring a sustainable childcare offer, it must being by providing a funding rate that matches the cost of delivering the high quality, passionate childcare parents have come to expect.”


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