Nearly 17% of childcare settings fear they will have to close their doors by Christmas, with just over half saying they will need emergency funding to stay open for the next six months.
The survey by the Early Years Alliance also found that only a quarter of childcare providers expect to make any profit between now and March, while two thirds said that the government had not done enough to support providers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Alliance is calling for an emergency Early Years Sufficiency Fund targeted at those childcare providers at risk of closure. Based on analysis of the 2,106 responses to the survey, independent early years research analysts Ceeda estimate that around £240 million in total would be needed for the fund over the next six months.
Childcare settings have been hit by a fall in demand this year due to the pandemic with providers seeing a 21 per cent fall in occupancy levels compared to this time last year.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: “We are now at a critical moment for the early years sector. With demand for places still significantly below what would typically be expected, and no sign of things returning to normal any time soon, many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are reaching the point of no return.
He added that “there is absolutely no excuse for the government’s continued indifference towards the early years sector” saying “quality early years provision is a central part of our social infrastructure, and should be treated as such. It’s not too late for the government to show that it recognises the value of the sector – both to the young children who benefit from quality early education, and the parents, and particularly mothers, who benefit from accessible care – and make the investment needed to safeguard the many thousands of providers in desperate need of support.”
The government has claimed that it is supporting the sector by ‘bulk buying’ early years places until the end of the year by funding councils based on last year’s childcare attendance figures. However, an Alliance Freedom of Information request investigation carried out in September found that in many cases, this money was not reaching the frontline, with one in six local authorities in England admitting that they were not adhering to government guidance on funding childcare providers based on last year’s numbers.
The full story, as reported by The Guardian can be found here.
Information on the Early Years Alliance #thisisearlyyears campaign can be found here.