Free childcare scheme ‘closing’ nurseries, education charity says

The BBC is reporting that a scheme offering 30 hours of free childcare a week has had a financial impact on providers, a charity says. 

Since 1 September 2017, most working parents in England have been entitled to the free care for children aged three to four during term time.

But the Pre-School Learning Alliance (PLA) said some childcare providers were struggling to remain open because of increased running costs.

The PLA charity surveyed 8,000 nurseries and childminder firms between 17 July and 23 August.

It received answers from 1,662 providers and found 46% of them felt the scheme “had a negative financial impact on their business”, while two-thirds said funding for child places did not “cover the full hourly cost of delivering the places”.

Gillian Simpson-Morris, managing director of The Acorns in Eldwick day nursery, in Bradford, said she was “feeling squeezed” because funding for child places there had dropped by 66 pence to £4.10 an hour while the cost for “everything is going up”.

Jennifer McCanna, a mother of two children from Sheffield, said despite the scheme not being “completely free” for her she had made a saving of £400 a month. “I completely see the point of view of the childcare providers because they have to make their business work,” she added.

In a statement, the DfE said “We continue to monitor delivery costs and we have commissioned new research to provide further information on the costs around childcare,” it added.

Read more Free childcare scheme ‘closing’ nurseries, education charity says

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