Almost 9,000 providers have closed their doors since 2016

Written by: Karen Faux
2 November 2018

New government statistics highlight that the number of early years providers has declined by almost 9,000 in England, in the last two years.

Childcare places have dropped from 3,093,000 to 2,841,300
Childcare places have dropped from 3,093,000 to 2,841,300

More parents will struggle to find high quality childcare in their local area as new data from the Department for Education highlights that providers of all types are leaving the sector.

The bi-annual Survey of Childcare and Early Years Providers, carried out by NatCen, estimates there were 81,500 providers offering Ofsted registered childcare places in spring 2018, compared to 90,300 in 2016.This represents a drop in overall places of 251,700.

An estimated workforce of 430,500 staff deliver the current 2.8m places.

More childminders fall by the wayside
The sharpest provider decline has been in childminders, whose numbers fell from 46,600 to 40,900.

Group-based providers dropped from 25,700 to 23,600, and the number of school-based providers fell from 17,900 to 16,900.

While this downward trend must take into account a fall in the population of pre-school children, provider closures will inevitably mean that parents have less choice in where they can place their children. It also signals increasing unsustainability fuelled by underfunding for the 30 hour ‘free’ entitlement.

At the Pre-School Learning Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch, believes the provider closures are testimony to government underfunding. He says: ‘As such, it is incredibly concerning to see the government's own statistics estimating that we've lost almost ten thousand providers – accounting for over 250,000 childcare places – since 2016.

‘With staff costs still accounting for more than three-quarters of overall costs for group providers, and the national living and minimum wages due to rise in April, the financial pressure on early years providers is only going to get worse. How many more are we likely to see close before the next set of statistics are released?

‘And of course, it's not just providers who are impacted by this. With nearly half of group settings having increased fees over the past year, many parents are also feeling the impact of this underfunded government policy.

‘It's time that the government stops pretending that all is fine, and starts taking action to ensure funding levels to ensure funding levels actually cover the true cost of delivering quality childcare.’

Read the full survey here

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