Ministers are facing more opposition to their controversial proposals to means-test support payments for nursery places, with one politician describing them as “completely unfair.”
They're due to be debated in the States Assembly next week, as part of plans to save the States millions of pounds over the next three years.
Under the new proposals households would only be eligible for full grants if parents earn less than £85,000 in total, and after that the support reduces on a sliding scale.
But Deputy John Le Fondre says parents will only be means-tested if they use private nurseries, not States-funded ones. He says that is an anomaly that must be changed.
“This is just so wrong and surely there has to be a level playing field for everybody,” he said. “I can’t see how sending your child to a private or a States-funded nursery should make any difference at all. You should either be eligible or not. It is common sense and I hope this is amended in next week’s MTFP because as it stands it is completely unfair. You cannot have one rule for one nursery and another rule for another. That doesn’t make sense. It is discrimination.”
Deputy Le Fondre’s amendment, if approved, would mean all parents will be means-tested.
He added: “The Minister seemed to be of the view that it was entirely appropriate that the Government should discriminate against private nursery providers by only means-testing parents who used their services and not means-testing parents who used services provided by States-run nurseries. This has to be blatantly unfair.
“Irrespective of views on means-testing, if it is to be implemented, it must be implemented on an even-handed basis. It cannot be fair that parents will be means-tested if they send their child to a particular provider of nursery education, but those same parents will not be means-tested if they send their child to a different provider, run by the Government.
”This proposition seeks purely to set the principle that if means-testing is introduced for nursery education, it is applied in respect of all providers of such education.”
The issue will be debated at next week’s MTFP discussions and Deputy Le Fondre said: “I hope Members will be supportive of this very important principle.”
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