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Labour is today releasing figures obtained through Freedom of Information requests showing huge cuts of 40% to the funding available to train childcare staff. Returns from 136 local authorities show the money available to train well qualified staff in childcare has been slashed by £37 million in one year – from £93 million in 2010/11 to £56 million in 2011/12.
In four areas – Redcar and Cleveland, Enfield, Solihull and Lewisham, there is now no money available for councils to provide nursery staff training.
The news comes as the Government plans to reduce the numbers of staff relative to children which experts warn could compromise standards and safeguards.
Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:
"Parents will be extremely concerned that the Government’s plans could reduce the quality of childcare and could put child safety at risk.
"In some parts of the country, there is now no money available to train nursery staff and we have seen 381 Sure Start centres close down. Local authorities have had to endure the deepest cuts of any area of Government. We also know these cuts have been worst in the areas of most need.
"Now the Tories want to go further and reduce the numbers of nursery staff and increase the numbers of toddlers they can look after.
"Experts at Labour’s childcare summit told us this will not reduce costs to taxpayers or parents and it will jeopardise quality. It’s no wonder that nine in ten parents say they want to keep the current safeguards in place. Two thirds of childminders say that if the Government’s plans to increase ratios were implemented – child safety ‘would be compromised’.
"David Cameron has created a childcare crisis with higher costs, fewer places and less support through tax credits. Change is needed urgently, but it must be change that drives down costs for hard pressed families and maintains quality."