Incredible 7,250 children lose nursery places after "free" childcare launches

Back in September 2017 the Government launched its latest plan to make it easier for parents to find work – 30 hours a week of "free" childcare for three and four year olds.

But while it was free for the parents, the nurseries children were being sent to still had to pay for staff, equipment, premises and more.

To cover this, the Government offered at least £4.30 an hour for each child using the scheme – but for many nurseries that simply wasn't enough to cover costs.

From September 2017 to August 2018 some 121 nurseries closed, the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said.

The next year was worse – between September 2018 and August 2019 there were 185 closures.

That's at least 306 nurseries and 7,250 places gone – with the rate of closure 153% higher than the year before 30 hour policy began.

NDNA chief executive Purnima Tanuku said: “These figures are only those we have managed to collate but we believe the true figure could be much higher."

And closing nurseries mean problems elsewhere too.

Tanuku said: “It’s very upsetting when any nursery has to make the decision to close its doors. It can be heart-breaking for children and their families who have to try to find alternative arrangements.

“Any break in their continuity of care can be damaging for children at a crucial stage of their development. It also has a knock-on effect on parents being able to work and leaves dedicated early years professionals searching for another job."

Almost half of the closures – 46% – were in areas with the lowest funding rate from central Government of £4.30 an hour per child, and the vast majority had a funding rate of less than £5 an hour.

Worse, 28% of closures were in communities within the 20% most deprived areas of the country.

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