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Essex childcare and meals gets a £24million windfall
6:10am Monday 23rd December 2013 in News
AUTHORITIES in Essex have been handed a £24million windfall to provide free childcare for parents as well as extra help for free school meals.
In the east of England, more than £67million has been made available to increase the number of youngsters – from 13,700 to 24,600 – who will have access to free childcare.
The funding announcement came yesterday from the Government, which urged Essex councils to invest the cash into their school nurseries and childminders to boost the number of places which offer childcare from 8am to 6pm, from September next year.
In addition, the Government has revealed extra funding will be made available for free school meals for thousands of pupils in the south of the county, claiming all pupils in reception and Years 1 and 2 will be given the opportunity of a free meal.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “I want to give children the best possible start in life to get them ready to learn, progress and aim high.
“That’s why we’re investing in early education for children in the East of England, to give them the chance to start school on an equal footing with their peers.
“Every child deserves tohave the best start in life, regardless of their background, financial situation or family set-up, and this funding will help even more children and families get on in life.”
The announcement came as the Government announced funding reductions for all local authorities – with Essex County Council losing out to the tune of £27million next year.
But County Hall will get £14.8million for childcare funding and £3.1million for free school meals.
Thurrockwill benefit to the tune of £2.9million for childcare and £259,677 for meals.
Southend will get £2.6million for childcare funding, and £443,598 for free meals from the Government.
The Government’s education and childcare Minister, Elizabeth Truss, said: “I’m encouraging East of England councils to make sure this money goes towards providing parents with places that support those who want to work – giving them flexibility and choice.”
A spokesman from EssexCounty Council said: “This is much needed funding which will enable a number of schools which are unable to provide hot nutritious school lunches through a lack of facilities with the means to do so.
“It will ensure we can support a programme of refurbishment in a significant number of schools.”
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