A new survey of local authorities across Britain published today by Coram Family and Childcare (CFC) reveals the significant challenges facing childcare providers and the steps they’re taking in response to the cost of living crisis.
The survey has found that:
- Nearly three quarters (72%) of local authorities report that over the last year, some or many of their local childcare providers have increased prices charged to parents**
- Almost half (48%) of local authorities say that some or many providers have had to reduce staff numbers
- Nearly half report that some or many providers have reduced their opening hours (44%) and reduced the number of funded early education entitlement places they can provide (43%)
- Over half of local authorities say that the sustainability of childcare providers has been negatively impacted by the rising cost of energy (57%) and food (53%)
The data also highlights a worrying recruitment crisis in the early years sector, impacting on the daily operations of settings. Almost three-quarters (71%) of local authorities report that providers are finding it ‘very difficult’ to recruit staff with the required qualifications and experience, whilst over two-thirds (69%) say the sustainability of providers has been negatively impacted by problems recruiting and retaining staff.
CFC warns that the struggles faced by the sector are likely to reduce the quality, affordability and availability of childcare for families, with children at risk of missing out on this vital boost to their development and outcomes.
CFC is also concerned by the reduction in the number of funded early education entitlement places being provided, given the vital role these play in getting children ready for school and narrowing the achievement gap between disadvantaged children and their peers which opens up before children even start school. It is of particular concern that a lack of places could mean disadvantaged children missing out.
Megan Jarvie, Head of Coram Family and Childcare, said: “Childcare and early education is a key part of our national infrastructure: it enables parents to work and boosts children’s outcomes, getting them ready to learn at school and beyond. Pressures on the childcare sector mean that more families are at risk of not being able to find the childcare that they rely on. We urge the Government to make sure that childcare and children’s life chances are at the very heart of their plans to support families through the cost of living crisis.”
Today’s research is released ahead of Coram Family and Childcare’s annual childcare survey, the definitive report on childcare costs and availability across Britain, set to be published in early March. For more information, please visit www.familyandchildcaretrust.org.
About Coram Family and Childcare
Coram Family and Childcare works to make the UK a better place for families by bringing together what we learn from our on the ground parent-led programmes and our research to campaign for solutions that parents want and need. We focus on childcare and early years to make a difference to families’ lives now and in the long term. Before August 2018, we were known as the Family and Childcare Trust.