Nicky Morgan must address serious concerns on free childcare delivery, says committee member

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan must address the serious concerns over its pledge to increase free childcare, an MP from a major committee has said.

The Government has pledged to double free childcare for three- and four-year-olds: Credit: Fotolia 

The Conservative manifesto pledged to double free childcare for three- and four-year-olds to 30 hours per week.

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Today Public Accounts Committee member and Labour MP Karin Smyth has tabled a Westminster debate in a bid to force ministers to address concerns over the plans.

Writing for PoliticsHome, she said the PAC had “genuine concerns” about the Department for Education’s ability to deliver the increased entitlement.

“The Committee’s inquiry found the DfE doesn’t have robust plans to ensure there are enough qualified early years staff to deliver the additional hours pledge,” Ms Smyth wrote.

“The department doesn’t even have a workforce plan for the early years sector. This is worrying, and raises serious questions about the pledge-making process, since the ability to deliver appears not to have been thoroughly assessed.”

“I hope that as a result of the debate ministers will outline their plans to address these wide-ranging concerns so we can move forward on delivering this vital additional entitlement.”

Last month the PAC laid out its concerns that the Government might not be able to meet its manifesto pledge.

Its report found some nurseries may choose not to offer the extra hours out of fear they will lose out financially.

It recommended small-scale pilot schemes to test whether providers are ready to offer parents the extra hours, but the Department for Education argued it was “speculation” to suggest providers would not be ready.


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