Over half of local authorities in England anticipate the permanent closure of childcare providers after COVID funding ends, a childcare charity has found.
As part of the Spending Review, the Government confirmed that funding arrangements to support the childcare sector through the pandemic will end in January.
New research by the charity Coram Family and Childcare has revealed that over half (58%) of local authorities in England believe local childcare providers will permanently close as a result of this support being withdrawn.
The findings, which are based on survey responses from 56% of councils in England, also revealed that a quarter (26%) of local authorities say they expect to see providers reduce the number of free early education entitlement places they offer.
The charity warned that closures are likely to lead to greater shortages in childcare availability for families, in a system that was already under pressure pre-pandemic.
Over a third (35%) of local authorities also reported that the number of providers permanently closing in their local area has increased in the last year.
The charity’s findings also showed that 39% of the respondents have seen childcare providers raise their prices during the pandemic and 30% have seen providers increase the number of children looked after by each staff member.
Megan Jarvie, the head of Coram Family and Childcare, commented: ‘The ending of additional Government support for childcare is going to be a blow for many childcare providers and the families who depend on them.
‘We all rely on the childcare sector to support the learning and development of children and to enable parents to work. There are already signs of the pressure on childcare providers – a third of local areas already report an increase in nursery closures and shortages are increasing in some areas. It is vital that the sector is supported so that every family can find the high quality childcare they need.’