NDNA says Department for Education must rethink unworkable Model Agreement before time runs out to make 30 hours a success
National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) today voiced the sector’s disappointment with the Department for Education’s failure to formalise nurseries’ ability to make mandatory charges for extras such as food to help cover the true cost of 30 hours.
In its Model Agreement, which reflects updated statutory guidance on early education and childcare to local authorities out today, the DfE says such charges for anything over and above childcare can only be voluntary.
But NDNA says voluntary charges are unworkable and no way to run a sustainable nursery business.
NDNA’s intention in advocating mandatory charges is to offset the loss-making effects of low hourly rates in many council areas and make 30 hours workable for more childcare providers ahead of planned full roll out in September.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “The principle of a Model Agreement is a positive step that we called for as a way of ensuring consistency across the country and there are some good elements to it.
“One welcome move is to allow nurseries to charge a refundable deposit to reserve a 30 hours place. However, we wanted the agreement to give the flexibility for nurseries to make mandatory additional charges for add-ons such as food and sessions such as dance or language classes.
“The Model Agreement lets nurseries make these charges but not as a condition of a place. For example, a setting can charge for meals but they must also have a policy for when parents don’t pay charges. DfE suggests allowing packed lunches or waiving or reducing charges for meals.
“Parents will be much better off with 30 hours’ funded childcare. Not only will it be a big saving, worth £4,500 per year, but they will also benefit from tax free childcare to reduce any additional costs by 20%.
“Early implementers trialling 30 hours have found that most parents are more than happy to pay extra charges. Nurseries can’t be put in a position where additional charges are voluntary. It’s not the way to run a sustainable business.
“Final hourly rates that are now being confirmed are leaving many nurseries bitterly disappointed and the right statutory guidance and Model Agreement would be an opportunity to help make 30 hours more achievable.
“Fears over a shortage of places have already been raised and the lack of additional support for providers in the guidance and agreement could prompt more childcare providers to opt out.
“Our message to Government is clear. Please revise the Model Agreement before we run out of time to make 30 hours a success.”