London nursery workers raise alarm over increasing number of children that staff can look after

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

London nursery workers have said Jeremy Hunt’s decision to increase the number of children that nursery staff can look after is “short sighted”.

Under plans announced in the Budget, the number of two-year-olds a carer can look after will rise from four to five.

The change was part of a major package of reforms including a plan to offer 30 hours of free childcare to working parents of children from the age of nine months.

But Tarek El-Semman, director of Little Jungle nursery in Peckham, said: “This is really short-sighted. An already stretched workforce will be expected to do what they are currently doing, but with less.”

Joeli Brearley, chief executive and founder of Pregnant Then Screwed charity, said: "Without a workforce plan, providers will continue to be forced to close, and increasing ratios will be detrimental to staff retention, what they need is better pay which will come from significant investment into the sector and into the roll-out of the free hours scheme."

The Chancellor has defended the reforms, saying: “This is the biggest transformation in childcare in my lifetime.”