Demand for free childcare stretching nurseries

Nursery providers have warned that increased demand for a new free 30-hour childcare scheme will mean many nurseries are likely to ‘go bust’.

Currently, parents are able to claim free childcare for three and four-year-olds through a pilot scheme, which has encouraged take-up rates of over 80 per cent.

Despite the government investing a ‘record £6 billion in childcare’, nurseries say that rising staff costs and inflation will force many providers to close as the funding will not be sufficient enough.

For example, in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, nursery providers claim that the cost of providing the care per child is £4.50 an hour, with the government subsidy only covering £3.40 of that. Consequently, 90 per cent of providers claim that they will not offer 30 hours free childcare in 2017 unless the funding proposals are changed - according to the BBC.

The pilot scheme is in place in eight regions across England - Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, York, Newham and Hertfordshire - and is offering acre for over 3,500 children.

From September 2017, parents working more than 16 hours a week and earning less than £100,000 a year will be able to claim an additional 15 extra childcare hours.

Clare Schofield, from the National Day Nurseries Association, said: “It's great that so many parents want to take advantage of this scheme but the government has got to listen to people on the frontline.”