March 11 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Norfolk will receive £7.7 million to extend free childcare to an extra 1,730 two year olds, and £1.9 million to deliver free school meals for infants, the government has announced.
The policies of increasing the proportion of two year olds eligible for 15 hours of free childcare a week from 20pc to 40pc, and giving free food to all infants, was announced in the autumn, but the detailed breakdown of funding was released for the first time today.
South West Norfolk MP and education minister Elizabeth Truss said: “I want parents to get the early years support their child is entitled to where they want it and at a time they need it. They would be able to access childcare in blocks of three or five hours to suit their working lives.
“Encouraging school nurseries to open from 8am to 6pm rather than 9am to 3pm and passing on funding to good and outstanding childminders will help offer places at the times we know parents need them. We have already made it easier for childminders to access funding for two year olds, and I want councils in the East of England to pass more money down so parents are able to access the home based, flexible childcare that many prefer.”
A total of 1,894 Norfolk two year olds are currently eligible for free childcare, at a cost of £1.7 million; this will grow to 3,624 next year, with an extra £6.7 million for new places, and £1 million to help increase capacity.
Suffolk will receive an extra £5.8 million for childcare and £1.7 million for free school meals, while Cambridgeshire will receive an extra £4.3 million and £1.4 million respectively.
The funding for free school meals is designed to ensure schools have the capacity to provide them, once every infant in a state-funded school becomes eligible from September 2014.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “Making free school meals available for infants in the East of England means children won’t miss out on getting a healthy meal during the day. This is good for their health and their studies.”
However, the policy of giving free school meals to all infants has provoked opposition from within Mr Clegg’s own Liberal Democrat party.
In October, senior Lib Dem MP Nick Harvey told Radio 4 that 1.3 million of parents who would benefit could “afford perfectly well to pay for their own school lunch”, and the money should be targeted at poorer families.
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