A petition opposing cuts to child minding services by Norfolk County Council has been signed by 1,000 people, local publisher EDP24 reports.
From April, many childminders in Norfolk could receive a cut in their rate from £5.06 an hour to £3.30 an hour.
The government funds free childcare places, but local councils are allowed to distribute the funding as they think fit.
Local campaigners say that cuts being made by Norfolk County Council could result in a shortage of child care places. However, local councillors said the government have approved the cuts.
A spokesman for Norfolk County Council told EDP24:
“We are not reducing the total amount of early years funding – but we are changing the allocation of the funding to better align it to the county council’s early-help strategy and ultimately meet the needs of more families in Norfolk.
“The introduction of a new funding formula will create a much fairer and simpler system, and will also create more flexibility for parents.
“The new formula is affordable – many more providers will benefit in an hourly rate increase, in particular those that have children which live in disadvantaged areas, and those that provide good quality, flexible provision.”
Campaigners say that if child minders offering free places are paid less, there may be fewer places available in the future.
The government has introduced 15 hours of free childcare a week for low-income families, to enable working families to afford childcare.
However, recent figures released in February show that the cost of private sector childcare has spiralled by one-third in the last five years, with some families paying more for private child care places than they do in mortgage repayments.
It is thought that many middle-income families are being out-priced – including nurses and teachers – with some mothers opting to interrupt their careers to stay at home and care for their children because of the high cost of childcare in the UK.
It is estimated a part-time place in a pre-school nursery can cost as much as £6,000 a year.
Some child care experts are blaming rising costs in child care on government regulation of the sector.
Director general at the Institute of Economic Affairs, Mark Littlewood, said:
“The exceptionally high cost of child care in the UK has been pushed up by the increasing formalisation of the industry.
“Further subsidies will do nothing to address the underlying causes of the high cost of child care in the UK – but merely transfer more of the cost to taxpayers.
“Deregulating the sector, as well as shifting the emphasis away from child care becoming a form of pre-primary education, will bring down costs considerably.”
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