Quarter of nurseries worried they will close within a year, survey seen by ITV News shows

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

  • Words by ITV News Consumer Producer Hannah Kings

One in four nurseries and childminders think it is unlikely they'll be operating in 12 months' time, and almost half (47%) say they might need to make staff redundant - according to research shared with ITV News.

More than 3,000 nurseries and childcare providers responded to a survey by the Early Years Alliance - England’s largest early years organisation.

Although most children are unable to go to nursery at the moment, many have remained open for a few children who are vulnerable or whose parents are key workers – and that means they still have costs to cover.

We spoke to Zoe Avery, who runs Goldsmiths Community Nursery in Catford, south east London.

She has managed to stay open for a few children whose parents are key workers, but she is struggling financially.

“Having the children here means the parents can go and they can save lives every day because we are doing our bit," Zoe told ITV News.

“I think the worry now is - are we really going to make it until the end of the year?”

The strain on nurseries is having an impact on parents, too.

Theodora Coppinger-Lee brings her son to Goldsmith’s so that she can work as a nurse on an NHS Covid-19 ward.

His usual nursery has closed temporarily, but she still has to pay fees to keep his place there - putting her under extra pressure.

Theodora said: “It's completely nerve-wracking - I cried a lot - not to mention what I'm facing professionally.”

In the survey shown to ITV News, over a fifth (21%) of nurseries said that they will have to keep charging fees for parents whose children aren’t attending at the moment.

The Government promised that like many other businesses, nurseries would be able to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - allowing them to furlough staff who don’t need to come to work - to send them home and have 80% of their wages paid through a Treasury grant.

However, the Government later clarified that early years providers would have limited access to the scheme.

This is because they are usually funded through a combination of private fees from parents and public sector money for childcare schemes.

Nurseries can only access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for the portion of staff salaries that are funded by private income.

Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Early Years Alliance, thinks the sector has been let down.

He told us: "It's all very well applauding childminders and nurseries who stepped up in this crisis, but it's something else when you pull the rug from below their feet, basically, and you renege on commitments.

"I think that is frankly disingenuous and disrespectful to the sector."

Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Early Years Alliance, says the sector has been let down.

In response to our research, the Department for Education said: "The government has put in place a significant package of financial support for providers - this includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which providers can access for employees whose salary is not covered by public funding.

"This principle applies universally across all sectors.”

As restrictions are lifted, nurseries and childcare providers will play an important role in getting parents back to work and the economy back on its feet.

But nurseries are telling us that, with the current level of Government support, surviving won’t be child’s play.

If you’re an early years childcare provider, you can find advice on this on the Early Years Alliance website.

Government information for parents with children of all ages is available here.