96% of providers say 30-hours funding doesn’t cover costs
By Rachel Lawler
A survey of early years providers has found that most settings are struggling with their finances as a result of the 30-hours funded childcare offer.
Campaign group Pregnant then Screwed surveyed 266 childcare providers about the offer. 96% said that funding for the 30-hours offer does not cover their costs, 92% said that the offer was causing them financial challenges and 22% said that they do not think they will still be open in a year’s time.
The survey also revealed staffing struggles, with 71% reporting difficulties recruiting staff and 69% saying that a lack of skilled workers has had a negative impact on their setting. 38% said that there are not enough training opportunities for early years staff.
Joeli Brearly, founder of Pregnant then Screwed, said: “We need the Government to create a childcare system that works for everyone, so that nurseries can stay open and provide quality care, and parents can go to work without facing the burden of high cost childcare.”
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "These results paint a grim picture of the sector’s future, but they are hardly surprising considering the thousands of providers who have closed in recent years.
“The reasons behind these closures are rarely complicated. I’ve spoken to hundreds of high-quality providers, all of them cherished by local families, that have simply been unable to cope with the financial burden so-called ‘free’ childcare places on them. Many more continue to survive only because parents can afford to subsidise supposedly funded hours by paying higher fees and voluntary charges. The hard truth is that this was inevitable when the gap between the true cost of delivering those hours and the funding received stands at two thirds of a billion pounds and is growing all the time.
“Parents are starting to see through the empty promise of ‘free’ childcare and, frankly, it’s time the politicians caught up. Instead of ever more generous offers of other people’s money, political parties should work out what’s best for the child and start developing serious, properly funded childcare policies that don’t leave parents worse off and don’t force providers out of business.”