Ofsted’s latest Childcare Providers and Inspections report shows that although quality continues to improve, there is a decrease in providers and places.
Ofsted figures show a 3% decrease in the number of childminders and a 2% fall in the number of nurseries since March 2015.
The number of available childcare places has also dropped by 1%.
However, 86% of nurseries were still judged as being “good” or “outstanding” in their latest inspection and the amount of nurseries judged as “requires improvement” or “inadequate” fell by 4% from the previous year.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, National Day Nurseries Association’s Chief Executive, said: “We are proud that nurseries are maintaining their excellent quality despite all their current difficulties, but these figures bear out the worrying, slow decline in the number of places and settings in the childcare sector.
“Government needs a thriving childcare sector, in which working parents can receive 30 free hours for their three- and four-year-olds from 2017, so this downward trend needs to be reversed if we want to ensure a choice of accessible, high quality childcare to meet parents’ needs.
“The sector is doing well in terms of quality, but it is certainly not thriving from a business perspective, as the decline in numbers shows.
“This reinforces our argument that sufficient funding per child needs to be in place so that nurseries and childminders aren’t forced to go out of business.”
Purnima added that the next Ofsted report will be eagerly anticipated, containing data from the first inspections under the Common Inspection Framework.