Councils slash childcare training by more than 40 per cent

By Ellie Clayton

| 11 January 2013

Local authority spending on training for childcare staff was cut by at least 40 per cent during the last financial year, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Some local authorities now have no budget for training early years staff. Image: David McCullough

The figures, obtained by the Labour Party, show that total spending on training for childcare staff was reduced by £37m from £93m 2010/11 to £56m in 2011/12 across 136 local authorities.

Four local authorities – Redcar and Cleveland, Enfield, Solihull and Lewisham – now have no budget for training childcare staff.

Denise Burke, director of United for All Ages and the Good Care Guide, said the latest news simply “adds to the anguish” of childcare professionals.

“This is something childminders and nurseries are going to have to bear in mind now,” she said. “They need adequately trained staff and if they’re not going to get any help from the local authority to help them with staff training then they are going to have to find that themselves.”

The release of the figures comes as the government is poised to publish the results of its Childcare Commission, which is widely tipped to include plans to reduce staff to child ratios in early years settings.

Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s shadow education secretary, claimed that any reduction in ratios could compromise standards and safeguards. 

“Parents will be extremely concerned that the government’s plans could reduce the quality of childcare and could put child safety at risk,” he said. “In some parts of the country, there is now no money available to train nursery staff.

“Now the Tories want to go further and reduce the numbers of nursery staff and increase the numbers of toddlers they can look after.”

But childcare minister Elizabeth Truss argued that the government’s proposals on changing ratios would only allow nurseries to take on more children where staff are properly qualified and trained. 

She insisted that the plans would mean that providers receive more income, which could be used to cut fees for parents and attract better quality staff by increasing salaries.

“After thirteen years in power, Labour left behind a childcare system where parents faced the highest costs of any major country besides Switzerland and staff were paid barely more than the minimum wage,” she said.

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