Local mothers barred from childcare funding

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Tuesday, April 16th, 2019 8:38pm

By Carmelo Garcia - Local Democracy Reporter

Herefordshire mothers say they cannot get childcare funding for their children if they enrol in nurseries across the border in Wales.

Victoria Thomas, from Kington, has been told her daughter Charlotte is not eligible for free funded education hours if she decides to send her to a nursery in Knighton, Powys, where she works.

The Department for Education, which sets the cross border funding agreements for England, does not allow English residents to access free funded education hours if their child enrols at nursery in Wales.

However, the Welsh Assembly does allow mothers in Powys to access such funding if their children go to nurseries in Herefordshire.

Mrs Thomas said she has contacted the DfE to solve what she sees as a ‘glaring loophole’.

“We are just over the border, most of our family live in Knighton and both her father and I work very long hours,” she said.

“I’m told now that because we live in Kington and Lottie attends a nursery in Knighton that she won’t be entitled to these free hours of childcare due to commence in April this year.

“It would be a great help to us financially if she were to receive the additional funding, her fees are quite expensive.
“We are one of several families facing this issue within our nursery alone.”

“I’m told Herefordshire Council receive funding for children attending settings within the county from Powys, so why not the other way around?”

Becky Lunn, who lives near Kington, faces the same problem.

Her eldest son attends nurseries in Knighton and Presteigne and her youngest is soon to join him.

“We choose the childcare setting in Knighton due to the convenience, our work is nearby, our family in and around the town and our GP is town,” she said.

The DfE did not directly address the cross border issue when ask to comment on it.

But a spokesperson said: “We are investing around £3.5 billion on our early education entitlements this year alone – more than any other government- to help parents with their childcare costs so that every child has access to a high quality early education.

“More than 700,000 of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds have benefited from 15 hours free childcare since 2013, and more than 340,000 three and four year olds benefitted from our 30 hours offer in its first year, meaning parents are spending less on childcare or are able to work more flexibly.”

A Herefordshire Council spokesperson said: “Cross border funding agreements in England are defined by the DfE and not the local authority.

“As a result the early education funding provision for England is different from the early education entitlement in Wales.

“At present this means that Herefordshire residents who enrol their child at a nursery in Wales are unable to access free funded education hours.”

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