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

More than 3,000 nurseries and childcare providers responded to a survey by the Early Years Alliance. Credit: PA Images
  • 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 Shazia Begum, who is the director of Shining Stars Nursery & Preschool in Malvern.

She says their summer term is 'their version of Christmas for the retail sector', with the most amount of children they see during the year tending to be at this time.

Shazia believes the sector deserves greater recognition.

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.

Shazia has furloughed her entire workforce after taking the Government advice and is now concerned many nurseries will struggle to survive.

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.