(Reg Charity 1080351)
C/o Greystones Primary School, Tullibardine Road, SHEFFIELD S11 7GL
Telephone: 0114 2671111 email:email@example.com
13th February 2023
Like many early years settings across the country this setting is facing financial pressures that are as a result falling income and increased expenditure. The lack of funding and the increase in the National Living Wage from 1st April 2023 to £10.42 per hour (a rise of 9.68%) has meant that the trustees and I have had to review our business plan to ensure that the setting remains viable. This is not a decision that we have taken lightly but the majority of our income comes from FEL/EFE which is currently paid at £4.43 per hour and this coupled with the rise in fuel costs, consumables and in staff wages, balancing the books is not going to be easy.
As a result, at our last meeting in January the trustees voted to make the following changes from the first of April 2023. I am therefore writing to you now to give you notice about the increases to fees and to advise you how these changes will affect you.-
Breakfast Club and Preschool fees to increase to £7.00 per hour. It was felt that this amount is necessary is cover the increase in the cost of consumables, energy costs and the increase in staff wages due to the change to the National Living Wage from April 2023
It was also agreed that from the beginning of the summer term we will be changing the way we charge for additional services. This amount will now be charged per hour rather than per session. This will equate to the following:-
2.5 hours (morning or afternoon session) = £4.00
3.5 hours (morning or afternoon session plus lunch) = £5.60
6 hours (all day) = £9.60
So why the change?
Unfortunately early years has been underfunded by the government for a number of years. At present the setting receives funding of £4.43 per hour for the funded learning (FEL/EFE) and is expected to pay £9.50 per hour for the National Living Wage (NLW). This means that the funding only pays 46% of the NLW. This is only going to get worse as Sheffield City Council are proposing a 5 pence increase to the FEL/EFE and the NLW is increasing by 92 pence. This shortfall has meant that there is a growing crisis in the early years sector as settings cannot remain viable (expenditure is more than income) or recruit/retain staff due to the fact that they can only pay their practitioners the minimum wage. Indeed early years practitioners can earn more money an hour working in a supermarket with less responsibility than working in early years. All over the country settings like ours have to close their doors, meaning that children do not have access to good quality early years education in their local area. Unfortunately the families of Bents Green, Ecclessall and Greystones have lost two early years settings in the last 7 months due to this. As a result the management team along with the trustees have had to look at ways to ensure that we remain viable and we thought that by changing to a rate per hour rather than a rate per session would bring in more additional service income meaning that we would still be able to continue to provide the same quality of education for your children without running at a loss. We also thought that at present there is no charge for the lunchtime period although we still have expenditure in the form of staff wages.
There will be no additional service for those families who are fee paying.
£2.00 charge if your child attends breakfast club and pays the setting using either FEL/ EFE hours. This will bring the charge more or less in line with what the parents of Greystones Primary children pay for the service.
The code of practice for the funded hours states that settings may charge an additional fee that when added to the FEL/EFE hourly rate is not above the amount charged to those families paying fees. At present we feel that the cost of providing good quality education and care for your child equates to £7.00 per hour. So increasing the additional services hourly rate to £1.60 per hour was fair and when added to the proposed hourly rate of £4.48 for the FEL/EFE means that the majority of our families are still paying less than those paying fees.
Greystones Preschool is a charity run organisation and has been at the heart of this community for over 50 years, sadly it will not continue to be viable unless we increase our income to match our expenditure.
At present there is a lot of speculation in the media regarding childcare costs. I have read a number of articles over the last days speculating how the government is going to overhaul childcare costs by increasing the number of so called ‘free hours’ given to families as well as increasing the staff to children ratios. Neither of these approaches will work as although the hours are promoted as ‘free’ to parents they are vastly underfunded to providers. This means that as parents use their funding settings will continue to become unviable and close, this means that demand will be greater than supply. With regards to changing ratios, giving more children to each practitioner will only lead to children not getting the same quality of care as well as opportunities to learn and develop.
I will be writing to Oliva Blake (MP) outlining the issue of underfunding in early years and the impact it is having/will have on our children’s education both now and in the future. If you wish to do the same you can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or www.oliviablake.org.uk
Please get in touch if you wish to discuss the above and thank you for your continued support.