The number of childcare providers has fallen by 5,400 in the last year, mainly due to a fall in childminders.
The number of childcare providers has fallen by 5,400 in the last year, mainly due to childminders shutting up shop, according to the latest Ofsted figures.
Ofsted reports that, as of the end of August, there were 65,600 childcare providers registered with Ofsted. Childminders account for 4,100 of the 5,400 childcare providers that have closed, compared to 300 nurseries, pre-school and holiday clubs.
The number of childminders has been falling for some years. Since 31 August 2021, about 1,500 childminders have joined the Ofsted register and 5,600 have left. Ofsted says it is the fall in the number of childminders joining the register which has seen the greatest fall. The number of places childminders offer is also falling, with the South West and the South East regions most affected, losing 44% and 43% places respectively. The most deprived areas of the country have proportionally fewer childminders compared with other areas of lower deprivation.
Overall, Ofsted says the number of childcare places has not decreased at the same rate as the number of providers, although it is down by 2%. Its figures show that 110 local authorities have seen a fall in places between August 2021 and August 2022. However, 26 local authorities have seen a fall in places of more than 5% during the same period.
Some 96% of childcare providers have been judged good or outstanding at their most recent inspection. The proportion of providers judged outstanding has decreased from 20% to 15% since 31 August 2019.
Neil Leitch, CEO of the Early Years Alliance, said: “What exactly is it going to take for the government to take action on the worsening crisis in our sector? The government continues to claim that because early years places remain comparatively stable on a national basis, all is fine – but our own analysis of today’s statistics reveal that in the last year alone, 110 local authorities have seen a fall in the number of places available to families, with 26 seeing declines of more than 5%. What use is it to parents to be told that there are sufficient early years places across the country if there aren’t enough in their local area?
“The government had the opportunity to tackle this crisis at the recent Autumn Statement – but despite managing to somehow find an extra £2.3bn for schools, opted to completely ignore the early years. If this approach continues, there is absolutely no doubt we will continue to see further closures on an ever-increasing scale. For providers to have any chance of remaining sustainable in the long term, the government must, as a matter of urgency, put forward a holistic, long-term plan to properly fund the early years. The sector simply won’t survive anything less.”