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Ofsted statistics show 33% rise in childcare closures

By Rachel Lawlerfather and daughter playing

An average of 735 early years providers closed each month between September and December 2019, according to new statistics released by Ofsted.

The figures show a 33% increase in the number of childminders, nurseries and pre-schools in England closing compared to the same period last year.

The statistics were released in response to a Parliamentary Question from Conservative MP Steve Brine.

The increasing number of closures is driven largely by childminders, with 543 closing in the final three months of last year, compared to 192 nursery and pre-school providers.

Last year's figures were provided in response to a Parliamentary Question from then shadow early years minister Tracy Brabin. The figures showed that between September and December 2018 an average of 390 providers left the early years register each month.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "We have consistently argued that childcare providers were already struggling to stay afloat long before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and these figures show just how badly the sector was already being affected by a sustained lack of adequate funding from the government.

“With the demand for childcare places now hugely reduced as a result of parental concerns over coronavirus, early years providers limited as to how many children they can safely care for, and the phased withdrawal of the Job Retention Scheme, the financial pressure on the sector is only going to increase over the coming months.

“And yet, while the government has spoken at great length about its plans to support primary and secondary schools to reopen fully, it seems that early years providers, who provide care and education for over a million children across the country, have been all but forgotten.

“For years now, the government has chosen to turn a blind eye as more and more nurseries, pre-schools and childminders have been forced out of business. It is vital that it now takes the opportunity to address both historic government underfunding and the current impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and deliver the financial support that providers need to remain viable. Anything less, and the childcare sector simply will not survive in the long term.”

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