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Next Government must prioritise disadvantaged children when allocating £6.4bn childcare budget - Debate

The next Government should urgently review the way the budget for early education and childcare - forecast at £6.4 billion - is allocated, to ensure best value for money. In a debate on Wednesday 18 March the House of Lords Committee on Affordable Childcare will make the case that the budget should be re-prioritised to help disadvantaged children.

The Committee believes that there are three main actions the new Government must take in order to get the best value for its investment:

  • reprioritise spending in early education and childcare to focus on disadvantaged children – better value for money will be achieved by targeting those most likely to benefit;
  • ensure that disadvantaged two year-olds access their free early education in settings rated good or outstanding by Ofsted no later than 2020; and
  • address the under-funding of free early education places in the Public, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) sector.

Chairman of the Committee, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, who will open the debate said:
“A large amount of money is spent on childcare and early education in England and we believe that better value for money could be achieved. The evidence clearly shows that high quality early education has a crucial role to play in helping disadvantaged children to reach their full potential. For this group in particular the impact can be substantial. They are also less likely to access early education in the absence of the government's policy. Therefore greater value for money in terms of child outcomes is obtained by investing in early education for this group, than for all children.

“We are not talking about increasing budgets – we are talking about a re-prioritisation of current spending to ensure that it targets those children who are likely to benefit the most.

“Our debate will provide the opportunity for Members of the Committee to press the Government on how they intend to respond to our report and ensure whoever forms the government after the election has delivering better child care for disadvantaged children at the top of their agenda.”

Other Members expected to take part in the debate include:

Baroness Garden of Frognal will respond on behalf of the Government.

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