1,000 nurseries close in childcare ‘crisis’

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The Government has been accused of “failing working families” after it has merged more than 1,000 nurseries and childminders have gone out business in the past two years.

Only 14,142 providers joined the latest register of childcare, compared with 15,288 when it was started two years ago, according to figures obtained by Tracey Brabin, shadow minister for early years.

Official Ofsted figures show a worrying loss of 1,146 providers from the Early Years Register since 2015, when the Conservatives were elected with a promise of 30 hours free childcare for working parents. This has been rolled back until next year.

But the implementation of the flagship policy has been plagued with technical problems, with some nurseries struggling to fill places as glitches on the scheme’s website left parents unable to sign up.

Four-fifths of those that dropped off the register had been rated either good or outstanding by Ofsted. Ministers have admitted the scheme had suffered teething problems but denied failing to fund the pledge. The Government said it was spending £6bn a year on childcare.

“The Tories promised to be the most family-friendly government ever, but time and again they are failing working families,” Ms Brabin said.. “Ministers ask early-years providers to do more and more but refuse to give them the necessary funding.”

“If they were serious about giving every child the best start in life, they would give providers the resources they need, instead of managing the decline of the sector, content to see thousands of providers lost year after year.” The cost of childcare has risen more than four times faster than wages in the last decade, research by the Trades Union Congress found last month.

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