Professor Dame Cathy Nutbrown comments on the Spring Budget announcement

Here Cathy discusses the impact of the 2023 Spring Budget announcement on childcare and early childhood education.

Cathy Nutbrown working in her office

Additional public funding to ease the pressure on family budgets will always be welcomed, but what is proposed is insufficient and unlikely to resolve the ongoing crisis in early childhood education and care provision. The stated change in the staff-to-child ratios for two-year-olds will allow providers, if they wish, to employ fewer adults to work with these young children, despite a government consultation confirming overwhelming opposition to this move. The most essential resource in early childhood provision is the professionals who work with them. Allowing more children to be the responsibility of each adult working with them would rob these young children of the quality adult time they need. Cutting costs for parents by giving less to their two-year-olds, and adding to the stress for early years practitioners, is morally wrong and counterproductive. 

The additional £204m announced for this year is also not sufficient to address existing funding concerns across the sector, meaning  providers of early childhood education and care for children under five years are still likely to struggle with unsustainable budgets.

The planned expansion of provision announced will require an enhanced early years workforce, who are skilled to deliver the increased number of places for babies and young children. The initial training and continuing professional development of the whole of the early years workforce must be prioritised, as must their recruitment and retention. It’s time to recognise the important role those who work with young children play in their learning and development - quality provision for all young children requires effective and sustained investment.

Professor Dame Cathy Nutbrown, Professor of Education in the School of Education.

Read the full comment here.

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