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Are people overpaying for childcare in Richmond?
Parents across the borough are paying over the odds for childcare, according to Richmond’s Liberal Democrats.
The opposition party said Richmond Council’s £3.50 nursery funding rate is half the going hourly rate charged by nurseries and childminders in the borough and is lower than the £4.15 rate in neighbouring Surrey.
The Lib Dems said between August 2010 and August 2013, funding rose by 1.7 per cent, which equates to 6p, but to keep pace with inflation it would have had to have risen by 34p.
Opposition leader Councillor Stephen Knight said free places at state primary schools were heavily oversubscribed and have not been expanded to keep up with pupil growth in recent years.
He said this means for many parents to access their 15 hours of free childcare they are forced to pay a premium for extra hours.
Coun Knight said: “With the huge rise in the birth rate over the past decade, it is clear that the council needs to invest in expanding nursery provision in the borough.
“Instead the current Tory administration has cut funding to nursery providers by 8 per cent in real terms since coming to office and frozen the funding this year for the first time.
“Even worse they have made this funding cut to a vital public service without telling the public or opposition councillors they were doing so.”
Councillor Paul Hodgins, cabinet member for schools, questioned how the Lib Dems had reached their conclusion.
He said: “According to Lib Dem logic and their figures, they themselves paid well below the odds during their administration.
“The current rate is based on the rate they set. With this they are trying to convince people they are competent enough to be voted back in?
“We have controlled costs well, allowing for a small increase in the hourly rate, despite there being no inflationary increase from central government.
“At the same time, we have expanded nursery places in the maintained sector by 104 places in the past two years, increasing opportunities for families to access their 15 hours’ free entitlement.”
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