One in three nurseries could go bust within a year due to government's childcare offer

38 per cent of childcare providers said that they didn’t think their setting would be sustainable in 12 months time (Rex)

More than a third of nurseries may be forced to close within the next year, following the introduction of the government’s new 30 hours of free funding.

The Pre-school Learning Alliance surveyed around 1,400 childcare providers during August, and 38 per cent said that they didn’t think their current model would be sustainable in 12 months’ time.

74 per cent of childcare providers also said that the funding levels for the 30 hours do not cover the cost of providing a place.

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The 30 hours entitles working parents to 15 hours of free childcare in addition to the 15 hours that are already offered to all children from the term after their third birthday.

To qualify, both parents (or the sole parent in a single-parent family) must be earning a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at the national minimum wage, and less than £100,000 annually. The new scheme launched today (1 September).

Nurseries and childminders are being forced to find ways of managing the shortfall, with 49 per cent saying they plan to increase the amount they charge for additional, non-funded hours. 52 per said they would up their charges for extra services, such as trips out and food.

Nurseries and childminders are having to think creatively to manage the shortfall (Rex)

There have also been technical issues, with many parents experiencing difficulties in accessing the offer via the government’s Childcare Services website.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said the 30-hours offer was a “policy in chaos”, and parents were now facing additional charges and unexpected restrictions.

He added: “We cannot wait for this problem to solve itself. Every week we’re hearing of more and more parents struggling to find places that actually suit their childcare needs.

“Every week we’re hearing of more and more childcare providers being forced to shut down as a result of the 30-hours. This simply cannot continue.”