Funding childcare – Westminster’s new way

slideNothing new in the fact that childcare is hard to afford and the cost remains one of the biggest barriers to accessing high quality early years education.

The good news is the extension of free places to 40% of the most disadvantaged 2 year olds and the 15 hours a week for 3 -5 year olds. But there remains the problem of the impact that the freeze on aspects of the child tax credit and working tax credit creates.

But there is good news in the London authority of Westminster. A brilliant pilot says Children and Young People Now, “Should go some way to show parents making the first steps into work that childcare is affordable and necessary to boost aspiration and social mobility.”

To secure a place at a nursery parents can be asked for approx £1000 to pay for the first 4 – 6 weeks. Quite daunting and often impossible.

Westminster’s affordability pilot, which will run until 2013, will underwrite the risk and postpone the fees for about 90 families. Parents will then pay at the end of the 6 week period, allowing for a delay in tax credit receipts.

Anna Devine, Childcare Marketing Facilitation Manager for Westminster, is confident that the programme will enable families to take the first steps and it is only if the parent does default that Westminster will have to pay the setting.

A positive move from a local authority when times are difficult and one step towards making life easier and a better chance for young children.

Sue Martin