Essex County Council wins High Court battle with Department of Education over cuts to nursery funding
18 May 2012
Essex County Council has won a High Court battle with the Department of Education over government cuts to pre-school education and childcare funding.
Essex County Council claims the Department of Education breached equality laws by cutting the budget by £10 million which disproportionately affected the county’s disabled children and those in areas of depravation disproportionately. The funding was aimed at upgrading existing substandard accommodation and building new facilities. These were designed in order to be accessible to children with disabilities, be fully inclusive and of suitable standards for providing early education and enabling parents to access their free three and four year old funding. They would also enable childcare providers to care for younger children and reach those in most need. The cut affected a large number of projects and the programme, as with all Early Years Education, was firmly linked to Early Intervention.
Councillor Peter Martin, Leader of Essex County Council said of the ruling “I am pleased to hear of the ruling in favour of Essex County Council. This was an unusual step for the council to take but we believed strongly that the rights of the county’s children to have access to these facilities is worth campaigning for.
“Whilst we realise that this is a time of austerity and budgets are tight, we believe it is important to protect those most vulnerable in society and ensure they are given the resources and support they need.
“Early years provision is of great importance to us in the county, reflected in the fact we have been announced as a pilot area for the relationship support aspect of the government’s support for families scheme and our work within in the county on EssexFamily and the ties this has with our pilot status within the government’s Whole Place Community Budgets.
“We hope the Department of Education listens to this ruling and makes the necessary adjustments to our funding to ensure Essex parents and children receive the best possible early years provision.”