Two thirds of London’s nurseries risk closure

A new report has warned that childcare providers across the capital will struggle to survive the year, with those in deprived areas being at the greatest disadvantage.

With the coronavirus pandemic impacting on the already-fragile finances of many childcare settings, the Mayor of London is calling on government ministers to address a funding shortfall that has driven many of London’s more than 10,000 early years providers to the brink of closure.

Sadiq Khan says that the providers are an essential service to support working parents so will play an important role in supporting the capital’s economic recovery, but chronic underfunding, combined with the coronavirus crisis, has had a significant impact on the sector.

The research – conducted by Early Years Alliance – found that 64 per cent of nurseries, pre-schools, maintained nursery schools and 56 per cent of childminders indicated that they were at immediate risk of closure or potential closure in the next 12 months. A total of 70 per cent of nurseries, pre-schools, maintained nursery schools in disadvantaged areas of London classed themselves as ‘struggling’ compared with 59 per cent in more affluent areas.

Khan said: “I want to thank everyone working in the early years sector for the extraordinary dedication and resilience they have shown this past year. The early years of a child’s life are crucial to their future development and this childcare is absolutely essential to support working parents, but this research exposes the extent of the crisis the sector faces in our capital.

“We know that working mothers are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and are more likely to have lost their jobs – the result of structural inequality that has long existed. That is why I am calling on the government to do everything in its power to support these key services, which are vital to London’s economic recovery, a lifeline for many of London’s working families, and a fundamental part of our duty of care to London’s children.

“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted huge inequalities in our society and it is unacceptable that years of government underinvestment in the early years mean children and parents from the most deprived parts of our city are now at increased risk of being left behind.”

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