2,000 early years providers have closed since start of the year
By Rachel Lawler
Labour has warned that the government’s “rhetoric does not match reality” as new data shows that more than 2,000 early years providers have closed their doors since the start of 2021.
The latest government statistics show that the total number of childcare providers in England fell from 74,130 in December 2020 to 72,043 in March 2021.
These figures come shortly after the government promised to “ensure that children have the best start in life, prioritising their early years” in the Queen’s Speech yesterday.
Rhetoric vs reality
Tulip Siddiq, Labour’s shadow minister for the early years, warned that the announcements on Family Hubs and child health will not compensate for the loss of early years providers and closure of more than 1,000 Sure Start centres since 2010.
She said: "Labour has repeatedly warned that a decade of Conservative neglect and the impact of the pandemic could force thousands of early years providers to shut their doors forever. This worrying data shows that our worst fears are being realised. The government’s rhetoric on early years has not been matched by reality and today’s promises will ring hollow for the thousands of parents struggling to find affordable early years education, childcare and support.
“Ministers need to start listening to families and come forward with a proper plan rebuild this essential infrastructure after a decade of neglect."
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "The fact that more than 2,000 early years providers have closed since the start of this year is deeply concerning but is of no surprise those familiar with the sector. It is the obvious result of years of paltry, below-inflation funding rises that have resulted in the substantial underfunding of early education entitlements.
"When combined with a lack of government action to combat the loss of income and additional costs resulting from the pandemic, we have an early years emergency on our hands. Unless this enormous and clearly unsustainable pressure is eased now, this unwelcome trend will only continue."