10 early years settings close in Norfolk and Suffolk
By Rachel Lawler
A group of 10 early years settings has closed, affecting up to 450 families and 136 members of staff across Norfolk and Suffolk.
Great Yarmouth Community Trust closed on Wednesday 27 November, following “serious financial difficulties”, according to the trust’s website.
Norfolk and Suffolk county councils are working to reopen the settings, or to provide families with alternative provision elsewhere.
Andrew Forest, executive director at the trust, told the BBC: “In recent years we have been experiencing financial difficulties and it has now become clear that our business is no longer viable.
“We have been working with insolvency experts and Norfolk County Council to do all we can to minimise the impact for those who use or visit our services.”
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “This hasn’t happened in a vacuum. We’ve warned and warned ministers about the impact underfunding is having on providers - and each of these warnings have been backed up by statistics: it’s a matter of record that fewer than half of parents accessing funded places get them genuinely ‘free’, and thousands of providers, particularly in poorer areas, are closing at an unprecedented rate.
“Instead of listening to us and taking action, we’ve had a raft of policies from all parties’ that will make these sort of closures even more likely. We simply can’t go on like this and it’s high time we had an honest conversation about the true cost of delivering childcare the real impact of ever more generous ‘free’ hours on both parents and providers.”