Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin is urging the Government to listen to the “dire warnings” from the struggling early years sector after new research showed an alarming number of nurseries are being forced to close.
The closed nurseries, which count Windy Millers in Birstall among their number, cited the Government’s underfunding of their 30-hours ‘free’ childcare policy as the main reason.
During a treasury debate in the House of Commons, Ms Brabin explained to the Government’s Children’s Minister the crippling effect the underfunding is having on the sector.
Tracy Brabin MP, who is the Shadow Minister for Early Years, said: “The National Day Nursery Alliances’ survey last week exposed the scale of closures caused by underfunding the 30 hours entitlement – a rise of nearly half over a year.
“Bright Beginnings in Stockport said that ‘the reality is we can’t provide Outstanding nursery care on the funding provided’. The Ark Nursery in West Sussex said they were ‘closing because of a decade of underfunding’.
“Windy Millers, in my own constituency, on the estate where I grew up, closed its doors a few months ago due to the same pressures.
“These aren’t outliers. Four in ten providers fear they will have to close in the coming year.
“These are viable businesses that just can’t square the circle of frozen funding and rising costs. If the Minister won’t listen to us – will he at least listen to them?”
In Tory Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi’s response he detailed the current rates paid out to nurseries, making no attempt to acknowledge the extreme difficulties many nurseries are facing.
Tracy Brabin MP later added: “His condescending response showed that he is completely unwilling to listen to the dire warnings coming from the sector.
“All he is willing to do is stand at the dispatch box and tell us what we already know. His response is an insult to those who we rely on to care for our children.
“A Labour Government would put quality at the heart of its early years offer, providing 30 hours of free childcare to every 2 to 4 year old in England.
“And we’ll pay providers properly for the incredibly valuable work they do.”
The National Day Nurseries Alliance annual survey of their members found that rising business costs, inadequate funding rates, growing deficits and additional administration are causing huge challenges for nurseries.
More on the NDNA survey can be found here