He has urged States Members to reject plans to increase spending on pre-school childcare – proposed in a Business Plan amendment by Education Minister Mike Vibert – saying that if the money has to be spent, it should be taken from other departmental budgets. Senator Vibert’s amendment calls for an additional £600,000 worth of spending in 2008, and an additional £1.5m every year after that. He says it would stop the ‘lottery’ of free nursery care that allows around half of Island children to get free nursery places – replacing it with a system guaranteeing 20 hours of free care per week in school term time. But Senator Le Sueur is opposing the move ‘in the strongest terms’. He says that if States Members have to support the increase, it should come out of Education’s budget, or taken from ‘pro rata’ reductions in all other department budgets. ‘This amendment proposes a recurring spending increase of £1.5m per annum,’ said Senator Le Sueur. ‘This would increase the demand on tax revenues by £1.5m for not just one year but to be maintained each and every year. This would increase spending by well in excess of £6m over the five-year cycle, which would actually mean that budgets were no longer balanced.’ The Business Plan is due to be debated on 18 September. There is currently enough nursery provision in the Island for 98 per cent of three-and-four-year-olds. However, it is only free for 52 per cent of them – the parents of the remaining 48 per cent, some 435 pre-school children, have to pay for nursery places.
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