In November 2021, government announced it would be increasing the supplementary funding hourly rate for Maintained Nursery Schools in 2022-23 by 3.5% - equivalent to the increase in the 3- and 4-year-old hourly funding rates. In December, they published a breakdown of the allocations of MNS supplementary funding to local authorities, together with the calculations on which these were based, ie the numbers of part-time equivalent children and the supplementary hourly rate used.
Despite the 3.5% increase being applied, in the December 2021 DSG allocations, the total pot of supplementary funding allocated has decreased from £55.8m in 2021-22 to £53.2m in 2022-23. The changes at local authority level vary wildly, from a 41% drop in funding for Reading to a 39% increase for Leicestershire, but only 21 local authorities will see their funding increase by 3.5% or more. The reason for this is the part-time equivalent numbers used by DfE being based on the January 2021 census, which was hugely impacted by the pandemic. Numbers attending were down in many areas as parents were keeping children at home, and there was much controversy as to whether the census criteria were appropriate at a time when settings were having to make difficult decisions about whether they could safely remain open to all children, and whether children whose learning was being supported remotely should have been included.
The DfE have confirmed that the supplementary funding allocations will as usual be updated based on the 2022 and 2023 census data:
The Early Years block allocations for 2022-23, including MNS supplementary funding, are initially based on January 2021 census, therefore these are indicative allocations and will be updated with January 2022 and January 2023 censuses. The final funding allocation for 2022-23 financial year will be based on January 2022 census to fund the 2022 summer term (April to August) and January 2023 census to fund the 2022 autumn term and 2023 spring term (September to March). The DSG technical note explains how the early years block allocations will be updated for 2022-23.Dedicated schools grant (DSG): 2022 to 2023
With Covid cases at an all time high, the January 2022 census will once again take place at a time when both staff and child absences are exceptionally high and many nursery schools will have had to restrict attendance or temporarily close. If the census is to be a remotely accurate basis for funding summer 2022 numbers, it needs to reflect attendance which would be expected if not impacted by the pandemic. Otherwise, the nursery schools will be doubly under-funded. First, by not being funded for the actual number of children present during the year. Second, by the government’s failure to provide maintained nursery schools with the same support as other schools for the additional costs of staff absences as a result of Covid.
11 January 2022