Preschool blames lack of government funding for closure after 40 years' service to Bath community

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A preschool in Bath has blamed a lack of government funding for its decision to shutdown after 40 years' service to a community in Bath.

Sunshine Preschool in Odd Down is one of three such providers which will close before Christmas, leaving hundreds of children chasing what places remain.

Staff at Sunshine have told ITV News there is a crisis in early years provision because the money it receives falls short of what is needed to run their facility.

"The government gives us 15 funded hours a week for every three-year-old but it's not free," says manager Claire Woolcock.

"Places need to charge a fee to offer children and parents an acceptable service. Our top-up fees are less than others. Some charge £90 a day. Many people here can't afford that."

Fourteen of the 19 children at Sunshine have no alternative provider once it closes.

The preschool, which is rated Good by Ofsted, pay the local church around £7,000 a year in rent. They've dipped into savings, reduced staff hours and had to pay an increase in the minimum wage in an effort to stay open but says it can no longer afford rent and wage costs.

"What is going to happen to these children?" adds Claire. "We're developing them to succeed in life but if they're not going anywhere it's going to have an impact when they get to school. It's a big worry. It feels like we're letting them down."

The preschool is raising funds by selling off equipment it will no longer need Credit: ITV News

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "This Government is rolling out the single biggest investment in childcare in England ever, and we are confident in the strength of our childcare market to deliver 30 free hours of childcare for working parents from nine months old up to when they start school.

"Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that the provision of childcare is sufficient to meet the requirements of parents in their area, but to make sure there are enough places across the country, we are investing hundreds of millions of pounds to increase hourly funding rates, and will shortly be allocating £100 million in capital funding for more early years places and spaces.

"To increase staff numbers, we are also launching a new national recruitment campaign and are looking to introduce a new accelerated apprenticeship route into the sector."