Children, Families & Learning Cabinet Member – Minutes – 17 March 2017

34 (34) EARLY YEARS FUNDING FORMULA 2017-18 – The Director of Governance and Partnerships submitted an urgent report seeking consideration of the proposed unit values for the 2017-18 funding formula for providers of Early Education to 2,3 and 4 year olds.

The Education Funding Agency published an operational guide annually, outlining the arrangements to help local authorities and their School’s Forums plan the local implementation of the early year’s national funding formula for the forthcoming financial year.

It was a statutory duty of the council to provide up to a maximum of 15 hours funded early education for all three and four year olds in North Lincolnshire, and from September 2017 an additional 15 hours for children of working parents that met an eligibility criteria. It was also a duty of the council to ensure that there was sufficient childcare to meet the needs of working parents and those with children eligible for funded early education.

Two-year old funding was for children where their family circumstances made them eligible for free school meals, where the family was in receipt of Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit with an income of no more than £16,190 per annum.  Or where a child was currently or previously looked after by a Local Authority.  Eligible children could claim up to 15 hours funded early learning and care per week for 38 weeks of the year.  The number of two year olds each term varied with an average take-up of 634 children each term during 2016. In the autumn term 2016, 86 per cent of eligible children took up their place.

The ‘pass-through’ funding level was set at a national rate of 93 per cent in 2017-18 and would increase to 95 per cent from 2018-19.  This meant that centrally retained funding would be constrained to seven per cent in the first year and five per cent in the second year.  The centrally retained funding in North Lincolnshire was currently 4.8 per cent of the funding allocation ensuring a higher proportion of funding available locally to fund providers of the free places.

Councils could determine their own local formula that met the requirements of statutory guidance in consultation with School’s Forum. Early years’ providers received funding based only on actual take-up of places.

The Disability Access Fund would support three and four year old children in receipt of Disability Living Allowance to access a childcare place at their chosen provider.  An Inclusion Fund was also available for providers to apply to for additional funds to support children with a lower level or emerging Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) as well as children in receipt of an Education Health and Care Plan.

The matter was urgent as the council was required to give notice to providers of the indicative funding allocations prior to implementation from 1 April 2017 (new financial year).

Resolved – That the use of the formula factors and values outlined in Appendix 1 to the report be approved.