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Report highlights dramatic impact of Covid-19 on the Early Years sector

New data shows that early years providers are facing huge financial losses in the wake of the coronavirus crisis as a result of long-term underfunding and reduced demand for places.

The Early Years Alliance has published a new report, The Forgotten Sector, detailing the impact of the outbreak and subsequent lack of government support on the early years sector in England.

The survey of more than 3,000 pre-schools, nurseries and childminders carried out by the Alliance in April already indicated a perilous position with:

  • 25% of respondents feeling that it was 'somewhat unlikely' or 'very unlikely' that they would be operating in 12 months' time.
  • 74% of respondents saying that the government hasn’t provided enough support for early years providers during the coronavirus crisis.

The position since appears to have deteriorated further with a survey of around 4,500 parents of under-fives undertaken in May finding that just 45% of parents intended to take up their childcare place when providers were able to reopen on 1 June.

Falls in parental demand, alongside limits on the number of children providers can deliver places for while limiting the risk of infection transmission, are likely to result in a significant reduction in income for many settings. Indications are that 69% of providers expect to operate at a loss over the next six months

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “The fact is that the early years sector is at a crunch point, and unless urgent action is taken, we are going to see many, many more settings forced to close their doors over the coming months. This could mean chaos for parents – and particularly mothers – trying to access childcare in order to return to work at a time when the government is desperately trying to restart the economy.

“Ministers must now commit to providing the financial support that childcare providers need to remain sustainable throughout this crisis and beyond. Anything less puts the long-term viability of the sector as a whole at risk.”

Read the full report here.