Cash cuts could shut nurseries

PUBLISHED: 03:17 07 December 2006 | UPDATED: 10:20 24 May 2010

NURSERIES across North Somerset could be forced to close because of cuts in funding. Apple Orchard Day Nursery in Weston has already shut for good and other

NURSERIES across North Somerset could be forced to close because of cuts in funding.Apple Orchard Day Nursery in Weston has already shut for good and other nursery owners in Weston, Worle and surrounding villages are campaigning against the cuts.The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) Code of Practice has said it will only fund each child to the tune of £4 a day, but this figure does not cover the cost of staff and wages which means owners will have to pull out of the funding arrangement or go private and start charging parents as private clients.The DfES wants three and four year olds to have access to free education but nursery owners are worried they will not be able to afford to keep their businesses open and they feel children may suffer in their crucial early years.They say children are eligible for 12.5 hours free education a week and any extra will have to be funded by the nurseries or the parents.DfES Children and Families Minister, Beverley Hughes, said: "We are funding the free entitlement with nearly £3billion per annum, including £82million per year for local authorities, to help support private and voluntary sector providers."If parents decide they want additional hours above 12.5 hours free childcare a week then they are at liberty to pay for those extra hours and the amount they pay will be for the parent and provider to agree on."Staff at nurseries, including Stanger Montessori in Hamilton Road, Weston, have been asked to work an extra hour per day to make ends meet. The Stanger nursery has eight staff who are severely underpaid and their jobs are under threat.They have been campaigning with leaflets and are prepared to petition against the DfES Code of Practice if the cut in funding goes ahead.Stanger Montessori nursery worker Jackie Davies said: "In 10 years time, if this carries on, there will be no nurseries left and no choices for parents. Our children will suffer in their most critical early years."The campaigners support the Government's desire to provide free education to three and four year olds, but not if they are having to subsidise it.The campaigners hope to stop the funding until each nursery has been fully assessed. They want support from people including other nursery workers and MPs. Their website is www.saveournurseries.org

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