A recent report published by Early Years Alliance (EYA) revealed that nurseries in impoverished areas of England were facing closure due to inadequate government funding. About 17% of surveyed nurseries were likely to shut down in the next twelve months.
Moreover, it was also found that some nurseries provided poor quality of food to children. According to Neil Leitch, chief executive of the EYA, the nursery sector was “in crisis”. “How much bigger do the early years funding shortfall have to grow before the government acts?” he contemplates. “Thousands of providers have closed, many more are charging for things that were previously free and now we see the impact this is likely to have on the poorest children in the country.”
According to reports, the Department for Education spent around £3.5bn a year on early education. Furthermore, working parents in England had a privilege to a scheme that offered 30 hours of free care to children aged between three and four during school term. The government allegedly paid a national average of £4.98 per hour to local authorities, but according to childcare providers, these costs were insufficient.
The study also revealed that more than 350 nurseries and 43% providers were compelled to curb learning resources, while 19% provided poor food quality to children. According to a statement by Paula Williams, owner of a nursery in Bradford, closure of her school was evident if low government funding prevailed.
“Our funding went down yet our costs have all increased because national living and a minimum wage is going up year on year and also we had to start paying pensions for all staff,” comments Williams. “As a project, further forward it’s getting tighter because next year the minimum wage will go up again and our funding is stagnant, it’s not increasing.” Williams also added that all the 48 children in the nursery were supported through the government’s scheme, whereas 80% of the budget was spent on staff costs.
The Department for Education, on the other hand, said it provided “a significant package of childcare to parents and carers”. “Our Early Years National Funding Formula allocates our funding to local authorities fairly and transparently,” commented a spokesperson. “We recognize the need to keep our evidence base on costs up-to-date and we continue to monitor the provider market closely through a range of research projects.”