A group of day care nursery owners from across the North met this week as part of a new taskforce being created by the FSB to tackle the challenges in the sector, and to stem the steady decline of smaller providers.
The group is seeking to build on research published by FSB last year, which found small childcare providers were struggling to make ends meet. The report made six key recommendations to alleviate the cost that are leading some nurseries to close their doors for good.
The group, made up of a dozen nursery owners from across the North of England including Cumbria, Yorkshire, Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester, were clear about the challenges that need addressing, and agreed to call on government and local authorities to help reverse the rapid decline in private day nursery provision across the country. The number of day care nurseries in England fell by 185 in the last 12 months – the same as one every other day.
Jane Walton, FSB Policy Chair for Pre-School Education, chaired the meeting. She said: “It was a very productive meeting, and I am genuinely excited that FSB will be campaigning to help support the sector. Our aim is to address the real challenges facing small childcare providers that want to provide high quality childcare, but our constrained by the current underfunded system.
“The majority of childcare providers are small and have to adhere to strict requirements: maintaining staffing levels, having a certain amount of space on site and paying for up-to-date training.
“Added to this the 30 hours free entitlement is simply underfunded and doesn’t work for many providers, with utilities, rent and business rates bills placing significant pressure on their costs. And unlike other education providers, nurseries are also liable for VAT – this is also something that we believe needs attention.
“Frankly, it’s high time Government stepped up and provided the support our nurseries are crying out for. The UK government could and should follow Scotland’s lead and help take one of the mounting cost pressures off English nurseries. We will now formalise a plan of action with the express aim of effecting real and meaningful for a forgotten but vitally important sector.”
FSB also said it would like to work with other industry bodies to develop that action plan, and ask other nursery owners who would like to feed in to their project to make contact by e-mailing: Jane.Walton@fsb.org.uk
Pictured above members of the FSB’s Nursery Taskforce, Jane Walton pictured far right