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30 hours policy "risks social mobility" according to new report

By Rachel Lawler
 
childcare policy social mobility
The current 30-hours childcare offer “risks damaging social mobility” according to the Social Mobility Commission's State of the Nation report 2018-19.
 
The report notes that 7% of children who are entitled to free school meals reach a “good level of development” at age five, compared to 74% of their more advantaged peers.
 
Children’s centres
While the report says the 30-hours offer was “well intentioned” it may not have a positive outcome for disadvantaged children. It also noted the closure and scaling back of “hundreds of children’s centres”.
 
The Social Mobility Commission has recommended that the government lower the income limit for the 30-hours offer to include those earning the equivalent of eight hours each week.
 
Awareness
The report also says that awareness is an issue for families, with almost 90% of those earning more than £45,000 a year being made aware of the offer, compared to 68% of those earning less than £10,000 a year.
 
The commission also suggested that the scheme be promoted via a national marketing campaign specifically targeting low-income households.
 
Interesting ideas
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “It’s interesting to note that the Commission recommends extending the entitlement on 30 hours to parents on lower incomes.
 
“This is an excellent idea in principle because it’s clear that the current policy benefits well-off families more than those from poorer backgrounds. In fact, we’ve always said a truly progressive policy would extend the entitlement to parents in training or education. 

 
Fair funding

“However, the determining factor in who can and can’t access funded childcare is not so much the eligibility criteria as it is the invisible barriers created by the government’s underfunding of the policy.


“The best way to ensure children from low income backgrounds have access to high quality childcare is to ensure that that provision is properly funded. Until that happens we’ll continue to see settings in deprived areas close and the attainment gap remain stubbornly wide.”
 
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