Government refuses to publish evidence submitted to cost of childcare review

By Jess Brown

| 12 January 2016

The government has said it will not publish responses submitted as part of the consultation into the cost of childcare.

The government has said it will not publish details of its consultation on childcare costs. Picture: Emilie Sandy

Speaking in parliament, in response to a question from Labour MP Emily Thornberry, childcare minister Sam Gyimah cited "confidentiality" issues as the reason why the government will not permit full disclosure of the information it received as part of the consultation.

Under government plans, free childcare entitlement for three- and four-year-olds will be extended from the current 15 hours to 30 hours each week by 2017. A trial is due to get under way in September next year. The consultation was held over concerns about how it will be paid for.

"It is not the department’s policy to publish individual responses to a consultation or to a call for evidence, some of which may have been submitted to the department in confidence," Gyimah said in parliament.

He added that the consultation, the findings of which were published in October last year, played an important part in the government's decision in November to increase the hourly rate of pay to early years providers by 30p.

The DfE had said at the time of the consultation that it was "unable to understand" the true costs of delivering childcare because many responses were not supported by figures.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said it is in the interests of transparency that the consultation's sources of evidence are revealed.  
 
“While the alliance recognises that it may not be the department’s policy to publish individual responses to a consultation, it is disappointing that the sources of evidence used to inform the report are not available to view publicly," he said.  

"This is of particular concern as the government’s response to the review stated that the provider replies to the call for evidence were 'often not supported by figures' – meaning that the department was unable to gain a full understanding of delivery costs.

"In the interests of transparency, it would be prudent for the department to release this information.”

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