Chancellor Sajid Javid has announced that the government’s extra spending on education will include £66 million for early years.
Announcing the spending review today, Mr Javid reaffirmed the government’s extra funding commitment for schools, which he said amounted to an increase of £7.1 billion by 2022-23 compared with this year.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Javid admitted the government was in “unchartered waters” but said "we give certainty where we can" as he announced spending plans for the UK's first period outside the European Union.
As already outlined by the prime minister, and education secretary Gavin Williamson, he said there was more money to increase teacher starting salaries to £30K as well as further money to cover the rise in teacher’s pensions contributions which schools must pay, and £700 million for SEND.
Early years funding 'won't stop closures'
But he added: “The government will also increase early years spending by £66 million, which will increase the hourly rate that is being paid in maintained nursery schools and other childcare providers who deliver on the government’s free childcare offer.”
Mr Javid said careful financial management over the past nine years meant the government could now afford to spend more on public services, and that “even within extra spending we are still meeting the fiscal rules”.
He paid tribute to his own teachers and lecturers, who persuaded him to study economics, and added: “We will have a better educated Britain where every child and young person has the opportunity to achieve success, no matter where they come from or who their parents are.”
But Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said the cash for early years would not be enough to prevent closures in the sector.
“The early years sector has been holding its breath, waiting desperately for some reprieve from years of government underfunding," he said.
"While any extra money is welcome, the £66 million announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for early education will not make even the smallest inroad into bridging the £662 million funding gap in the sector. We are nearing a tipping point where parents will no longer be able to bear the increase in fees and optional extras that childcare providers are forced to charge to subsidise the funding shortfall. Many childcare providers have already reached that tipping point and have closed for good. On today’s news, expect more childcare price hikes and more closures.”
And Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, also said the money was not enough. "£66 million for early years funding is wholly inadequate. The government needs to invest £300 million to restore cuts to early years provision in order to stop providers having to close down. There is still no money mentioned for maintained nurseries that face closure from next August."