Poorest suffer most from early years funding shortfall

Early years providers based in areas of deprivation are twice as likely to close as those in the most affluent areas, the Early Years Alliance has found.

Almost one in five (17%) providers (17%) in the most deprived areas of England anticipate that they will have to close within the next year, more than twice as many as in the least deprived areas (8%).

The research also found that the total shortfall in early years funding has risen by more than £50 million in the past year.

Providers also said that they were forced to make cost savings as a result of the shortfall, with 43% cutting back on learning resources and 19% saying they had to lower the quality of food given to children.

The survey was conducted by independent agency Ceeda who surveyed 356 private, voluntary and independent childcare settings about the cost of delivering quality childcare.

The news comes shortly at the start of the Fair Future Funding Action Week – a cross-sector campaign aiming to ensure that every MP in England is made aware of the funding crisis.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “This is what a sector in crisis looks like. Providers are straining to deliver quality childcare on funding levels set in 201, leaving them forced to choose between reducing quality and charging ever higher fees or closing their doors.

“There’s only one conclusion to draw from this: the government can no longer afford to underfund the early years.

“It must invest properly in its flagship childcare scheme and review the funding annually to make sure it stays in line with rising costs.”

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