Nurseries and childminders and other early years educational settings in Swindon will receive an increase in the money they get from government for every child they take in.

But one nursery manager has warned it will be an effective cut in cash for some, and that could see some nurseries and childminders opening for fewer hours.

A meeting of Swindon Borough Council’s school’s forum was told that the Department of Education has announced an increase in the monies paid to early years settings.

Swindon Borough Council will keep five per cent of the funding from central government to pay for work with families that need extra support and help to access early years education.

However, Jo Morris, who runs Playsteps nurseries, which has two branches in town, and is also the Conservative councillor for Priory Vale and the shadow cabinet member for children, said that the increased rate for three- to four-year-olds would be an effective cut for some providers.

She said: “The hourly rate for three to four years olds goes up to £5.20. That’s a headline increase of 26p for the higher rate.

“But the government gave an extra grant for more flexible providers last year for last term and this term, acknowledging that the rates aren’t enough.

"The Borough Council used that extra money as a supplementary payment, but it was bundled up with the payments for the hourly rate."

Cllr Morris said: “It was, in effect, an increase to £5.25 for the higher rate providers.

“So they will experience the new flat rate of £5.20 as an effective cut.”

The lower and middle rates will be increased by 86p and 63p per hour respectively to come up to the new flat rate of £5.20.

Cllr Morris said: “There is an issue nationally in the early years sector with some businesses not able to carry on.

"With difficulties recruiting, some might decide that there’s no incentive to be more flexible on hours, might go back to 8am to 4pm or 9am to 4pm, which might not help parents who work."

The different rate for different levels of flexibility were introduced in 2016 by Swindon Borough Council. But it has reverted to paying a flat rate following a consultation where 53 per cent of respondents preferred that.