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The number of childminders has fallen by 27% since 2012, according to new statistics released by the government.
The number fell by 600 or 1% between December 2017 and March 2018. The number of childcare providers such as nurseries has fallen by 3% since 2015, but has risen slightly since December, but only by fewer than 50. The number of nannies used has remained stable since 2012, but has fallen by 200 since December.
Although childminder provider numbers have decreased by 27% since 2012, the number of places offered by childminders has only decreased by 11%. This means that each individual childminder is offering a higher number of places on average, even though there are fewer childminders and places overall. Much of the shortfall in places has been taken up by other providers, such as nurseries and preschools so the Government says the number of places available has remained more or less stable.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: “Childminders offer parents a vital source of quality, flexible care and education and the services they provide are absolutely crucial to the sector as a whole, especially at a time when the government is trying to expand the childcare offer in this country.
“As such, we urge the government to finally take some action on this issue – and addressing concerns over excessive paperwork, substantially increasing hourly funding rates, and crucially, removing unfair rules preventing childminders from claiming funding for related children would be a good start. As these statistics have made clear, simply ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away.”
The Government estimates there were 294,000 three to four year old children in a 30 hours place in the autumn term, representing 89% of all eligibility codes issued to parents for that term. New figures out today from the Department for Education show that as of January 2018, 80% of three-and-four-year-olds were taking up the 30 hours funded childcare offer at private and voluntary nurseries, pre-schools and childminders, while just 18% were taking up places in maintained nursery schools and primary school nursery classes.
Leitch added: “Today’s figures show that any hope of the 30 hours offer succeeding in the long term rests on the private and voluntary sector – but without adequate funding, more and more providers will find that they simply cannot afford to continue offering places. While some may be able to survive in the short-term by increasing fees and introducing additional charges, this isn’t sustainable in the long term. Neither parents nor providers should have to pay the price for a pledge that government chose to make.”