Early education sector can’t sustain another wage rise without drastic funding increase: Alliance gives new evidence to Low Pay Commission

Early Years Alliance chief executive, Neil Leitch will today (17 July) present evidence to the Low Pay Commission, arguing that while early years professionals deserve better pay, the sector cannot afford another minimum wage increase without a substantial increase in funding from government. 

Mr Leitch will share new evidence provided by early years experts CEEDA which shows that, despite nursery managers and practitioners getting a pay rise of an average of 4% and 3% respectively since the national minimum wage increased this year, pay is still lagging woefully behind other sectors. 

Nursery manager pay now averages £13.97 an hour compared to £20.42 per hour for comparable professional occupations, with practitioners earning an average £8.74 compared to £9.59 an hour for roles in the same occupational class.* 

The impact is being felt sharply in recruitment, with 32% of childcare providers recruiting to 14,300 vacancies in 2018, and 77% of providers finding at least one vacancy hard to fill, according to CEEDA. Early Years Teacher enrolment has plummeted from 2,327 in 2013 to a meagre 365 new entrants in 2018.** 

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance said:

“There is no doubt that dedicated early years professionals deserve better pay. But the government cannot on the one hand freeze funding for its flagship childcare schemes and with the other, enforce statutory pay rises on providers. It’s completely unsustainable. 

“Giving evidence to the Low Pay Commission offers us another route to tell government decision-makers what they already know: that the sector will fall deeper into crisis if it has to bear another minimum wage increase without government stepping up urgently and plugging the £662 million shortfall in early years funding.” 

Dr Jo Verrill, managing director, CEEDA research said: 

“The early years workforce plays a vital role in improving children’s life chances, yet workers are amongst the lowest paid in the country. The shortfall in government investment is increasingly impacting on the sector’s ability to recruit, retain and develop staff in a tight labour market where employment rates are at record levels.” 

CEEDA analysis also shows that more than one in two childcare settings report skills gaps in their existing workforce (55%) compared to 13% of employers across all sectors. The staff turnover rate for the sector is 15%, although over one in ten providers have rates of 26% or higher. 


Notes to editors

*The sector average wage data has been compared to ONS data, with the sector averages including recent national minimum wage rises, whereas the ONS data does not. 

** Early Years Teacher enrolment figures sourced from:https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/759716/ITT_Census_2018_to_2019_main_text.pdf

The Early Years Alliance presented data compiled by CEEDA in its About Early Years Sector Skills Survey:www.aboutearlyyears.co.uk/about-early-years-sector-skills-survey/ as well as from its report Counting the Cost in Spring: www.aboutearlyyears.co.uk/counting-the-cost-in-spring-2019/

The Alliance also presented findings from a survey which asked its members what impact the April minimum wage increase would have on their sustainability https://www.eyalliance.org.uk/childcare-fees-hike-%E2%80%98inevitable%E2%80%99-without-urgent-action-new-alliance-survey-reveals:

About the Early Years Alliance

  • The Early Years Alliance is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England. A registered educational charity, it also provides high-quality affordable childcare and education to support children and families in areas of deprivation throughout the country.
  • The Alliance represents 14,000 member settings and supports them to deliver care and learning to more than 800,000 families every year. We deliver family learning projects, offer information and advice, produce specialist publications, run acclaimed training programmes and campaign to influence early years policy and practice.
  • The Alliance website is www.eyalliance.org.uk


Established in 1999, Ceeda is widely recognised within the sector, wider media and by regulatory and governmental bodies as a leading source of authoritative and independent intelligence on the early years sector