Camden has a proud history of investment in nursery places because the evidence shows that high quality provision helps children to thrive and succeed in later life.
All three and four year olds are entitled to a free 15 hour nursery place. Camden currently provides an extra 15 hours for these children in its school and Council-run nurseries (30 hours in total). We call this our ‘enhanced offer’ and we are the only council in the country that provides this.
The Government is keen to ensure that all nursery age children across England have access to high quality nursery provision and to support parents to take up paid work. It is therefore introducing changes to:
· the number of hours of nursery provision that children are entitled to
· the way that nursery places are funded.
These changes will affect the amount of free early education and childcare available to parents in Camden from September 2017. Below you will find more information on the changes and our proposals for a new offer in Camden. We want to know what you think. We are also asking schools, nurseries and childminders what they think about our proposals.
New national early years policy
Extended free nursery places
From September 2017 the three and four year old children of working parents will be entitled to an additional 15 hours (30 in total) of free nursery provision in any registered childcare setting.
To be eligible for the additional 15 hours:
· both parents, or the sole parent in a one parent family, must be working
· each parent must have a weekly minimum income equivalent to 16 hours at the national minimum wage or living wage, and
· neither parent must have income of more than £100,000 per year.
The Department for Education estimates that 850 three and four year olds in Camden will meet this criteria.
New national funding formula
The way nursery places are funded in Camden is based on the Council’s local priorities. Camden currently has the highest hourly rate of early years funding in the country because we have long recognised the importance of good universal provision.
The introduction of a national funding formula from April 2017 aims to achieve a fairer allocation of funding across the country. As Camden currently receives the highest level of funding, we are one of the few local authorities whose funding will decrease. The national funding formula also sets out how local authorities must pass on funds to providers of nursery provision.
· For more details on the new funding formula, visit gov.uk/dfe
What this means for Camden
The new national policies mean Camden will no longer be able to afford our current level of free nursery provision to those three and four year olds who are in school or Council-run nurseries. If we kept the current offer, at the same time as introducing the new national policies, we would be left with a funding gap of more than £5 million. In the current climate of reducing public spending, we cannot afford to fund this extra amount. This means we will need to stop providing our additional 15 hours for the three and four year olds in school and Council-run nurseries from September 2017 (our ‘enhanced offer’).
No three and four year olds currently receiving the enhanced offer will be affected.
A revised offer of free nursery provision for Camden
We want to ensure that the borough continues to be a place where everyone can succeed and nobody gets left behind.
We are very proud of our nursery provision, and the positive impact it has made on the lives of many children and their families across the borough. We are proposing therefore to introduce a new, more targeted enhanced offer of nursery provision in Camden. We propose to fund an additional 15 hours of free nursery provision (30 hours in total) for three and four year olds who meet the current criteria for two year old free nursery provision. The criteria is:
has a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
receives Disability Living Allowance
has left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order
is looked after by a local authority.
Your family is receiving the following benefits:
income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
the Working Tax Credit four-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit).
This still represents a considerable investment by the Council in nursery places but targets that investment at those children we believe will benefit from it the most.
How to respond
This consultation runs from Monday 13 February until midnight on Sunday 5 March so you need to respond to this questionnaire before then.
More information is available at camden.gov.uk/earlyyearsfunding