A third of nurseries in the most disadvantaged areas could be forced to close their doors permanently because of COVID-19 related financial difficulties, according to a new study out today.
A report by the Sutton Trust, based on polling by the Early Years Alliance, warns that two thirds (69%) of providers in deprived areas expected to operate at a loss over the next six months.
More than a third (42%) of nurseries in disadvantaged areas anticipated making redundancies, compared to 29% of early years providers in more affluent areas in England.
Around a third (34%) of early years providers in disadvantaged areas say that they may be forced to close permanently, compared to 24% in the least deprived areas.
The analysis also found nurseries and pre-schools in the most deprived areas are more than twice as likely to have needed a business rates holiday compared to those in the least deprived (35% vs 16%) and almost twice as likely to have utilised small business grant funding (18% v 10%).
Today’s analysis comes alongside ‘Getting the Balance Right’, a new report by the Sutton Trust, which examines recent government policy on early childhood education and care in England.
It finds that progress on closing the school readiness gap between disadvantaged children and their peers has stalled and the policy to provide working families with 30 hours free childcare is regressive, with the majority of the increased government funding supporting better off families, and parents on benefits seeing little change to their incomes.
‘The coronavirus crisis is having a devastating impact on the early years sector, with many nurseries and pre-schools facing closure,’ said Trust founder, Sir Peter Lampi.
‘This will inevitably have a long-lasting impact on children’s early development. Parents will struggle to find a place for their child. This will affect their ability to go to work.
‘Now is the time, when the world has been turned upside down, to prioritise support for children and families. Crucially the government must introduce a package of support to protect early years providers and enable them to stay solvent,’ added Sir Peter.
While the chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, Neil Leitch, added: ‘We are deeply concerned by these research findings showing that a lack of adequate government support could mean that a third of childcare providers in the most disadvantaged areas may be forced to close.
‘We have long warned that without urgent government financial support, many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders would be unable to stay afloat, and the Sutton Trust’s analysis of the our own survey data shows that it is those settings that serve families most in need of support that could be hit the hardest.’
Photo Credit – ErikaWittlieb (Pixabay)