One in six childcare providers in England may close by Christmas

One in six childcare providers in England may close by Christmas

A quarter of nurseries and childminders across deprived areas of England say they will not get by beyond Christmas without additional income, according to a survey taken by the Early Years Alliance (EYA).

A poll, of 2,000 childcare providers, showed that low demand for places and inadequate government support during the COVID-19 pandemic could result in mass closures of childcare facilities.

Overall, about one in six providers said they could close by Christmas, and just over half said they would require emergency funding to stay open over the next six months. In addition, nearly two-thirds of said the government had not provided adequate support during the coronavirus crisis, and only a quarter expected to make any profit between now and March.

The poll found an average fall of 21% in occupancy levels compared with last year. The government says it is supporting the sector by “bulk-buying” early years places. However, in many cases the money is not reaching the frontline, according to the EYA.

The EYA is calling for an emergency early years sufficiency fund for childcare providers at risk of closure, which the research analysts Ceeda estimate would cost £240m over the next six months.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said nurseries, pre-schools and childminders had already received significant financial support over the past months and would further benefit from the government’s 2020/21 funding package of £3.6bn for free early education and childcare places.