Letter to the editor

A recent letter to the editor in the Hackney Gazette

Fear of more childcare funding cuts
Thursday 16th September 2010

It is great news that Hackney Council have decided to keep free swimming for under 16s. It’s a shame however that, along with The Learning Trust, it seems intent on cutting services that are far more essential for families in the borough.

Most of the borough’s community nurseries lost about 50,000 from their commissioning funding in April. Only after Friends of Hackney Nurseries – a network of parents, activists and nursery staff – made a fuss, was half of the money returned and a “second round” of funding introduced. Now it seems that, after the commissioning funding fiasco, The Learning Trust has decided to cut another stream of nursery funding.

Under the new Single Funding Formula – the funding stream that pays for the 15 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds – all nurseries will face a per child funding cut on previous years.

Even though it is clear it is a real funding cut, the Learning Trust has decided to call it an increase. As if that was not enough, it seems that funding for special needs children will also be cut this year.

It’s time for The Learning Trust to come clean and open its books to show the residents of Hackney what is really going on with childcare funding in the borough. It is crucial that funding be fully restored to our community nurseries and the most recent funding cuts reversed.

The Council must guarantee both the existence of community nurseries by providing adequate funding, as well ensuring the total number of nursery places in Hackney is maintained. If anything, the inadequate number of nursery places should be increasing, not decreasing.

Nicholas Beuret,
Friends of Hackney Nurseries

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The ‘social wage’ and the Hackney nurseries campaign

This article originally appeared here

Camille Barbagallo and Nic Beuret look at the role of public services and how the cuts axe is falling

Childcare services in the UK are under attack. Childcare services across the country are being defunded, abolished and downgraded. In this article we start with the specific cuts in Hackney to nursery places and analyse these cuts in the context of the gendered nature of the ConDem’s austerity budget. We explore both what enables these cuts to happen now and what their effects will be and conclude with some reflections on possible paths of resistance within the current crisis of care.

Let’s be honest – the public services that are being cut include things that we need, but we hate how they are given to us: like unemployment benefits. They also involve jobs that we rely on but resent having to do. But what is also true is that they are part of a ‘social wage’ fought for and won by pervious generations.

By ‘social wage’ we mean the services and direct payments provided by the state that enable our subsistence. The health services, childcare, unemployment benefits, social housing – they are our social wage. The social wage has a dual effect. It operates as a method of discipline and control and also as a means of reducing the direct cost (to us) of our own material reproduction. Instead of paying the ‘full’ cost for childcare out of our wages, we get subsidised or ‘free’ childcare. Instead of paying directly for health services, such services are funded by taxation and provided by the NHS. Instead of having to put aside money in case we are sacked, we get the dole.

The social wage is also a way of ‘paying the unpaid’. The primary focus of the social wage is social reproduction and involves labour that would otherwise be unwaged. This has historically been known as ‘women’s work’ such as caring for children, the elderly, the sick and disabled, the health of the body and emotional and psychological services such as counselling, etc. The social wage is a way of redistributing income so as to benefit those people whose (unwaged) labour is fundamental and vital for the reproduction of workers and capitalism in general. Continue reading

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An attack on a whole community

It has to be recognized that cuts to nursery funding is not just an attack on the families who will lose out, or just an attack on those workers who will lose their jobs (or, in some instances, have their nurseries closed altogether).  When it means that women are forced back into the home to raise children in isolation it is an attack on a whole community.
Hackney’s nurseries have been under attack this year – not because of Osbourne’s budget, but because the private trust that controls the funding for children’s services in Hackney has arbitrarily cut funding and changed the rules for its distribution. Friends of Hackney’s Nurseries have been fighting to stop these cuts with some success.

Continue reading

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Wednesday 21st July 2010 at 6 p.m.
outside the Town Hall, Mare St, E8.

We have invited Rita Krishna, member of Cabinet with responsibility for Children and Young People (and member of the board of the Learning Trust), to receive the petition from us before the Full Council meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

Thanks to vigorous campaigning by Friends of Hackney Nurseries, some of the 13 nurseries who had their commissioning grants arbitrarily removed in April have had most of their money restored. However, several have not, and have had to cut wages, number of childcare places, and are still in danger of closure.

There are still many unanswered questions about the future of our nurseries, especially in the light of proposed cuts to all public services. And the Learning Trust is still not making itself transparent and accountable to the people of Hackney.

Everyone who cares about nurseries, and indeed all the children of our borough, is welcome to join us – come and show the council and the Learning Trust that we will not be fobbed off.

Friends of Hackney Nurseries is committed to good quality, affordable childcare for all who want it, and demands transparency and accountability from the Learning Trust about how our money is spent.

Sign the petitition here http://www.petitiononline.com/fhn/petition.html

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next meeting: Wednesday 4 August

The next campaign meeting for Friends of Hackney Nurseries is on Wednesday 4 August
6.30pm Bath House Community Nursery 76 Shacklewell Lane Hackney
all parent, nursery staff, community members, kids welcome!

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Strategy Planning Afternoon: Sun 27 June 1.30- 4.30pm

all nursery staff, parents, community activists, trade unionists, feminists and kids welcome

Friends of Hackney Nurseries Strategy Planning Afternoon
Sunday 27 June 1.30pm – 4.30pm
Hackney City Farm, 1a Goldsmith’s Row, London E2 8QA
[creche: you need to call 07981070417 in advance to let us know the age and number of kids attending – so we can plan activities and staff levels]

Friends of Hackney Nurseries (FHN) would like to invite you to join us for an afternoon of information sharing, discussion and planning for the campaign for quality, affordable childcare for all. The FHN campaign is at a crucial point – with the Hackney Learning Trust refusing to be honest about its internal processes and with the prospect of further funding cuts being implemented next year, it is imperative that we join together, share information and get organised. The recent campaign has shown that people working together have the ability to create change.

Some initial questions for the strategy day:
– what do we want to achieve with our campaign – in the short term and in the long term
– who do we want to get involved in the campaign
– how do we get them involved
– what actions and mobilisations do we think will work / are we capable of doing
– when should FHN hold our regular meetings and activities

We need community controlled, quality affordable childcare
No nursery cuts in Hackney!

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hackney solidarity network stall at the Fun Day

kids making a 'save our nurseries' banner at the Fun Day

These beautiful images were created by the london anarcha feminist kolektiv – they are drawings from photographs taken at the Friends of Hackney Nurseries Fun Day

the amazing cake stall

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This April, at least 8 community nurseries in Hackney were informed of immediate cuts ranging from £30,000 – £50,000 for each nursery. These cuts were implemented without consultation or a fair and open process. They mean a serious threat of nursery closures. The Hackney Learning Trust and Hackney Council are denying that there is a programme of cuts to nursery provision.

We, the undersigned, call on the Hackney Learning Trust to
1) immediately reverse the decision to cut funding to nurseries’ commissioning grants
2) have full consultation with community nurseries about funding and answer our questions on how money is being allocated

Sign the petition here: www.petitiononline.com/fhn/petition.html

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Friends of Hackney Nurseries Fun Day!

30 May – 11 noon to 2 pm
London Fields (find us near the children’s playground)

Face Painting / Raffle / Lucky Dip /Banner Making /Story Telling / Teddy Bears Picnic

Come and join us!

Enjoy a day out meeting other people who care about community childcare

Show support for the Friends of Hackney Nurseries’ campaign to resist cuts

To help organise the Fun Day or for more info e-mail FHN@live.co.uk

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In the last few days, every political party has been rushing to reaffirm their commitment to nurseries, following Friends of Hackney Nurseries’ exposure of the cuts of up to £50,000 being imposed on many community nurseries with no notice.

At a hustings meeting at North London Muslim Centre on Sunday, Jules Pipe again claimed there were no cuts in the Learning Trust early years’ budget, but simply a reallocation of resources. He did concede that the way the nurseries were informed of the cuts was “disgusting”, but his assertion that the budget was being redistributed “on the basis of actual need within each nursery” denies the fact that all the nurseries suffering the huge cuts already care for a significant number of vulnerable children and many with special needs.

Several of the nurseries being targeted with cuts face closure if these issues are not resolved quickly, which would have a devastating effect on the workers, parents, and children concerned, who would thus be driven into poverty themselves, if they are not suffering already.

Whatever the outcome of the election, Friends of Hackney Nurseries insists that this outrageous situation must be dealt with.  We know of at least eight nurseries which are under threat, but we have yet to discover any that are expecting an increase.

Even Rita Krishna, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Children and Young People and Board Member of the Learning Trust, has continued to claim that she has no knowledge of how the Learning Trust allocates its funding.

So today, Friends of Hackney Nurseries announces that we are seeking legal advice, as the information regarding nurseries’ cuts in no way matches our experiences.  We find the Learning Trust’s processes opaque and unaccountable, and this situation will continue whoever wins tomorrow’s election. They have never revealed any criteria on which they have based their decisions, and it is impossible to run our nurseries in this climate of anxiety and manipulation.

We call on the Learning Trust to halt its devastating and unaccountable behaviour forthwith, and to answer our simple questions about the future of all Hackney’s nurseries.

For more more information about our campaign, please contact Friends of Hackney Nurseries at FHN@live.co.uk.

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