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Parents in Harlow say it is “vital nurseries stay open”

Politics / Mon 25th Apr 2016 at 10:08am

By Eric White

PARENTS in Harlow have said “it is absolutely vital nurseries stay open” after it has emerged government plans to double free hours may lead to up to 750 childcare providers being closed across the United Kingdom.

The Pre-school Learning Alliance say that in 2017, free care for three-and four-year-olds will rise from 15 to 30 hours in each term-time week, which has led to fear from many childcare providers that they will be forced to close.

49% of 1,500 who chose to respond to an online survey sent out by Pre-School Learning Alliance said they feared closure, while ministers have said there are many that are behind the scheme.

Childcare providers say they are concerned the scheme is underfunded and a National Audit Office Report last month warned councils might struggle to find providers willing to offer the 30 free hours for all eligible children.

Ian Roberts, 41, said: “Nurseries and other childcare providers are extremely important to our children.
“It is absolutely vital nurseries stay open.
“As a parent, I would personally be distraught if anything were to happen to nurseries in Harlow as they were so helpful for my kids when I was bringing them up.”

Jasmine Thompson, 27, said: “It brings up a very important debate for me as to whether all of these free hours are needed.

“The most important thing is the children at the end of the day.

“They should be the priority so I just hope whatever happens that the nurseries don’t suffer too much.”

There is a fear among childcare providers that will be unable to hugely increase or even double the amount of free hours on offer for eligible children.

Pre-school Learning Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch said: “These figures are a stark warning of what could happen if the government insists on rolling out an underfunded, under-resourced free entitlement offer.”

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