A Burntwood councillor has warned that parents in the town are facing a childcare crisis.
Cllr Sue Woodward, Labour’s representative for Burntwood North on Staffordshire County Council, said more needed to be done to boost provision for pre-school youngsters.
And she criticised the “gap between rhetoric and reality” at the council.
“I am being contacted by more and more families about childcare services in Burntwood,” she said. “We have some excellent self-employed carers and childcare providers here in the town, but they are experiencing huge pressure on places and also on their finances.
“I’m concerned that the number of places will simply not meet demand.
“On the one hand we have Government and the county council trumpeting their support for families and childcare providers and yet there is a huge gap between their rhetoric and the reality facing families.”
Government plans will see some families in Lichfield and Burntwood eligible for 30 hours of free childcare every week.
Cllr Mike Lawrence, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for children, said the move was “great news” for local parents.
“It helps to give their children the best possible start in life and will make a real difference to working families,” he said.
But Cllr Woodward said the bigger picture surrounding the pilot scheme wasn’t quite as positive as it looked for local residents.
“This sounds great for hard-pressed families,” she said. “But this will be means-tested and will only be available to a small number of families, just over 400 in the whole of the county – that means very few in Burntwood, if at all.
“Many families who struggle to meet ever-increasing bills, including new council tax rises, understandably feel this is unfair.”
The Oscars childcare facility at St John’s Church in Chase Terrace will close in the summer and Cllr Woodward warned others could follow.
She said: “Childcare providers are struggling to meet all the financial demands on them, with payments for free places being squeezed. Ofsted also makes increasingly onerous demands on them.
“To add insult to injury, they are now being charged £50 for each person who attends county-wide briefing sessions from the council’s education support provider, Entrust. The lead member at the county council was not even aware of this, but has at least now said he will look again at it.”