The nursery schools running out of money and hope: Fears that one in four could close
Nurseries say they are facing a shortage of funding which has been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.
Recent figures show that one in four early years providers are facing closure in the next year.
One of those struggling to stay afloat is Kings Worthy pre-school in Hampshire. Staff say despite fundraising efforts by parents and supporters its long term future is still very unclear.
Kings Worthy Pre-School near Winchester didn't expect to reopen in September, but thanks to a summer of fundraising by parents and supporters it's safe - but only till December.
Taylor Hogan and Natalie Devereux, Parents
Even before the pandemic, early years providers were struggling. In the year to March more than 1000 closed across the South and Thames Valley.
Since lockdown demand for places has fallen by 70 %. Now 1 in 4 feel they are at risk of closure.
Olivia Kirkby, Manager
Meanwhile, Jane Fisher says Covid sealed the fate on 3 pre-schools she had run in East Hampshire for 25 years. She was forced to close them in July with the loss of 60 places.
The Government says early years providers will benefit from a 3.6 billion pound funding package in the next year. But the Early Years Alliance says it's not enough.
Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance
Winchester MP Steve Brine heads an all party group for children and early years and met the Chancellor last week.
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies:
1 in 4 nurseries think they will close in the next year
Demand dropped by 70% during lockdown
More than 1000 nurseries have closed across the south
More than 500 have closed in Kent and Sussex in the year up to March
In a statement the Department for Education said, “Nurseries, preschools and childminders are integral to this country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
"That’s why we set out from the start that we would continue providing councils with funding for free childcare entitlements for 2,3 and 4 year-olds, even if settings were closed – which the IFS itself acknowledges has helped protect the sector.
"Early years settings have received significant financial support over the past months and will benefit from a planned £3.6 billion funding package in 2020-21 for free early education and childcare places.
"We are providing extra stability and reassurance to nurseries and childminders that are open by ‘block-buying’ childcare places for the rest of this year at the level we would have funded before coronavirus – regardless of how many children are attending.