High Peak nurseries in crisis due to funding shortfall

Ruth George MP meeting Nursery owners to hear their worries about the future of the sector
Ruth George MP meeting Nursery owners to hear their worries about the future of the sector

The owner of a Chapel-en-le-Frith nursery says a government funding shortfall means she will be forced to increase her fees or face closure.

Julie Goodwin, who owns Little Jules Nurseries, says when she opened it 18 months ago parents were all paying for childcare.

Ruth George MP meeting Nursery owners to hear their worries about the future of the sector

Ruth George MP meeting Nursery owners to hear their worries about the future of the sector

However since the government introduced 30 hours’ free childcare for children aged 3-4 she has had to plug a £5,000 shortfall each month.

Campaign group the Early Years Alliance say there is a £615 billion shortfall in early years funding as funding rates - which were set and frozen in 2015 and do not take increases to business rates, the minimum wage and other costs into account.

Worried Julie said: “We are now looking at putting our fees up but that would price us out of the market.

“If we close not only does it affect me but all the money we’ve put into starting our own nursery and are still paying back. “The staff will lose their jobs and the children would lose their safe environment - a place they love to come to and have fun with their friends.”

Ruth George MP meeting Nursery owners to hear their worries about the future of the sector

Ruth George MP meeting Nursery owners to hear their worries about the future of the sector

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We are planning to spend around £3.5 billion on our early education entitlements this year alone – more than any previous Government.

“Our Early Years National Funding Formula allocates our funding to local authorities fairly and transparently.

“We recognise the need to keep our evidence base on costs up-to-date and we continue to monitor the provider market closely through a range of research projects.”

High Peak MP Ruth George met with Julie and staff from other High Peak nurseries to discuss the crisis.

Speaking afterwards she said “There’s mounting evidence across the country that nurseries are in crisis and that warning was echoed to me by all the nurseries at the meeting and by other nurseries across High Peak.

“The system isn’t working and it’s threatening good local nurseries that children and parents desperately need.

“I’ve been asked to chair the all-party group on early years in Parliament where we are preparing a report on the need for extra funding for this autumn’s comprehensive spending review - so the evidence from local nurseries was extremely important and I’d like to thank them all.”