Education

20.03.19

Northamptonshire CC to ask for DfE for more time over controversial early years funding cuts

Northamptonshire County Council is to ask the government for extra time to find a solution to its early years funding deficit after proposals for nearly £2m of cuts faced a backlash from residents.

The cash-strapped council had proposed £1.8m worth of cuts from its £45m early years budget, but care providers spoke out against the plans and the authority will now miss its 31 March deadline as it reworks its budget.

Northamptonshire CC has said that heavily reduced funding from central government means that it is heading for a £1.8m overspend in 2019-20 if changes aren’t made.

The cost-saving measures included withdrawing the 53p per-hour per-child supplement for children with special needs, reducing the deprivation supplement, cutting nursery schools’ funding, and reducing central expenditure by £400,000.

The assistant director of quality and performance for the council’s children services Sharon Muldoon said: “We will speak to the DfE to see if we can get an extension. We have the budget proposal and that is not going to go away.”

“We should have done this before now, but we are where we are. Next year we will make sure we have a forward plan to avoid this scenario.”

Addressing childminders and nurseries, Muldoon noted: “We need to do this with you rather than just look at what works for us.”

Providers claim that the cuts would have hit all of the region’s early years providers, with the biggest total savings coming from reducing quality supplements in order to save £1m.

The schools’ forum was due to make a decision on the savings earlier this week but opted against it after a backlash from the providers.

Now, the county council will go to the Department for Education to ask for an extension past 31 March to prepare its budget.

At the meeting, the headteacher of the Parklands Nursery School in Northampton, Sarah Brooking said: “his proposal will close us. We have looked at our budget and if the quality supplement is taken away it will cost us £60,000 per year.”

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