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Source: Labour List UK

Labour’s Tulip Siddiq has warned that new figures released by the education standards authority Ofsted shows provides “further worrying evidence that the early years sector is on the brink of collapse”.

Responding to research on early years providers published by the regulator today, which showed that a third fear closure due in part to the financial impact of Covid, the shadow early years minister urged the government to rethink planned cuts.

Commenting this afternoon, Siddiq said that the potential collapse of providers in the early years sector is “putting at risk the jobs of working parents who rely on childcare and the life chances of many young children”.

She added: “The government must heed Labour’s calls for targeted support for nurseries, childminders and pre-schools and urgently rethink plans to slash their funding from January.”

The government has continued to fund local authorities for the childcare places they usually provide throughout a term, rather than allocating funding based on how many children attend, in a bid to help secure their income.

But in response to a written parliamentary question from Siddiq, children and families minister Vicky Ford explained that local authorities’ funding to childcare providers would return to ‘funding following the child’ from January 1st.

The report released by Ofsted this afternoon revealed that most childcare providers continue to operate with fewer children on the roll and with lower demand for places compared with the same time last year due to the pandemic.

Providers in the most deprived areas and those in London and the West Midlands were more likely to report that they had far fewer children in attendance, and many struggled to provide staffing due to staff illness or self-isolation.

Research produced by the Early Years Alliance last month found that one in four nurseries and childminders could cease operating within the first six months when the government cuts its funding to the sector from January next year.

Labour called on the government to focus financial support on the struggling childcare sector in July this year to “prevent a wave of nursery closures” in the pandemic, emphasising the associated impacts on parents’ ability to work.

The shadow minister for children and early years told government ministers at the time that a mass shutting down of childcare settings would result in a “setting back” in the country’s economic recovery from coronavirus.

MIL OSI United Kingdom