Settings close as financial pressure takes its toll

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Nurseries across the country are being hit by cuts to funding and increased costs, leading many to close ahead of the introduction of the 30 free hours.

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Nurseries across the country are being hit by cuts to funding and increased costs, leading many to close ahead of the introduction of the 30 free hours.

Nursery World has learnt that a number of early years settings in England have closed or are due to close this year because they are no longer financially viable.

Among those are Abacus Pre-School in West Bridgford, Nottingham and Sparkles Nursery in Weston-Super-Mare, both of which are to close at Christmas.

Abacus Pre-School is a registered charity, run by a committee of trustees. The 32-place setting, which is rated Good by Ofsted, has been operating for 40 years.

In a statement, the pre-school said, ‘There are a number of reasons for the closure of the setting, including falling numbers of children year upon year and more and more parents locally needing care throughout the year, not just during term time. Our costs have also increased as we have had to take on younger children to fill the gap left by the single point of entry to school, which means higher staff ratios, and local authority funding rates have stayed static until very recently.

‘The introduction of the National Living Wage, which will rise steeply each year until 2020, has compounded this, alongside a recent confirmation from our local authority that funding rates will be frozen until the same date.’

It continued, ‘The introduction of the 30 hours is unlikely to help as many of our parents will not be eligible, and those that are will very likely use their funding at another setting.

‘There is also a lot of competition in the area – there are another 25 settings within a two- to three-mile radius – most of which offer care 52 weeks of the year, something which we are not able to do.’

Sparkles Nursery, also rated Good by Ofsted, is to close on 21 December after running for just two and a half years.

Writing on its Facebook page, the nursery blamed large overheads, lack of Government funding and the high cost of living for its imminent closure.

Sparkles Nursery was contacted for a response, but it said it wanted to focus its efforts on the children in its last few weeks of operation.

Nursery World will be carrying out further investigation into the number of nurseries closing because of financial difficulties in the new year, and is looking to hear from readers who know of any such settings.

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