More than half (58%) of local authorities in England believe local childcare providers will permanently close when Covid support ends, a charity has warned.
A survey by Coram Family and Childcare also found a quarter (26%) of councils say they expect to see providers reduce the number of free early education entitlement places they offer when the support is withdrawn.
In addition, more than a third (35%) of local authorities report that the number of providers permanently closing in their local area has increased in the last year.
And whilst the majority of local authorities report they have not yet seen an increase in childcare shortages, 73% have seen a decrease in demand from families over the pandemic.
‘The ending of additional government support for childcare is going to be a blow for many childcare providers and the families who depend on them,’ said the head of Coram Family and Childcare, Megan Jarvie.
‘We all rely on the childcare sector to support the learning and development of children and to enable parents to work. There are already signs of the pressure on childcare providers – a third of local areas already report an increase in nursery closures and shortages are increasing in some areas. It is vital that the sector is supported so that every family can find the high-quality childcare they need.’
Commenting on the survey, the chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, Neil Leitch said: ‘Sadly, it comes as no surprise that a majority of local authorities expect the government’s spring funding decision to lead to the closure of early years settings.
‘Throughout the coronavirus crisis, the sector has repeatedly expressed grave concerns about the survival of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders across the country, after years of underfunding has left the sector struggling to cope.
‘Local authorities have now clearly backed up what the sector has been crying out for months on end. The government offers the sector its thanks, but thanks will not keep providers’ doors open – it must act quickly on the overwhelming evidence available and back the sector financially if these closures are to be avoided.’
Photo Credit – FeeLoona (Pixabay)