Nursery ClosuresJan, 13th 2020
Ofsted data analysed by the National Day Nurseries Association has shown that more than 7250 children have been affected by nursery closures in England. The Governments offer to increase free places to 30 hours per week per child to working parents of 3 and 4 year olds. Nursery owners say the funding is not enough to cover costs which are rising. This is especially apparent in areas with the lowest funding rate of £4.30 per hour, the majority of nurseries across the Country have a funding rate of less than £5 per hour per child, the policy does not help with VAT, business rates, workplace pensions, the rise in the cost of living and minimum wage increase.
Thousands of providers have closed as they find they are forced to cut back on things such as quality of food, equipment, and staff training.
The Early Years Alliance reports that the most deprived areas in England are worst affected and they anticipate many more closures in the next 12 months. MP's have been warned by industry representatives that a child care crisis is indicated, this will ultimately impede on the workplace. between September and December last year an average of 164 private nurseries and preschool, (attached to local schools) have closed.
Parents in more deprived areas cannot afford to cover the shortfall between the funded amount and the actual nursery fee, many give up work to look after children themselves as, financially, this makes more sense.
There are concerns that vulnerable children and children with special needs are missing out on nursery places as staff ratio has to be increased, nursery owners are unable to pay extra staff, in order to survive they are reducing children and staff numbers.
A report published by the school leaders union, the National Association of Head Teachers, recommends:
- The Government should revisit funding rates to ensure the cost borne by the providers are fully covered.
- The should ensure that providers receive funding in a timely manner, the financial stability of providers should not be compromised by delayed payments.
- They should carry out a full evaluation of the impact on those children excluded from the funding policy if they are to avoid reversing the success of the 15 hour free early education offer.
- Infrastructure and IT should be improved to make it easier to obtain and validate eligibility codes.
Present funding will be looked at again in September 2020, it is not known what the Government will suggest, or even if the funding will continue.
Anyone wishing to express their views can sign a petition on line \"Stop School Cuts\"