Government says no extra time to sort out Northamptonshire County Council's early years budget

The Government has said no to a request by Northamptonshire County Council for extra time to sort out its early years budget.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 4:49 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd March 2019, 4:56 pm
Earlier this month early years providers spoke to the councils' scrutiny committee about various payment issues.

After a backlash from childminders and nurseries about how a £1.5m funding reduction was divided up between providers, the county council said it would approach the Department for Education to get a time extension in order to sort out the issue.

But the DfE has not given the under-pressure council extra time and so a new proposal will be put before an extraordinary schools forum meeting next Friday (March 29).

Details on what the authority is proposing have not yet been made public, but it understood the council will now look at removing a 14p subsidy that each provider gets to help meet special education need provision costs. There will also likely be a cut to central costs.

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Director of children’s services Sally Hodges will make the decision whether to run with the controversial original proposal – which would have had a big impact on the most qualified providers – or to go forward with this second proposal.

Manager of a nursery in Dodford Rachel Hutchinson said she does feel that the authority has this time listened to the concerns of early years providers but the ‘proof will be in the pudding’ when the report papers are published on Tuesday.

She said: “It is a double edged sword really. After the past 18 months of incorrect payments we now have to face this. The council has left it right up to the last minute so we have not had time to prepare ourselves.

“We are still facing a cut and will have to look at our budgets.”

A spokesman for the council said: “An extension to the DfE budget deadline has not been secured. We are however discussing this matter further at an extraordinary meeting of the schools forum next Friday where final proposals will be discussed and we will hopefully be in a position to set the budget within the required timescale.”