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Training providers say they have lost faith in the Government to deliver the Level 3 apprenticeship standard – which has still not been produced five years after work on it started.

A new DfE report on providers’ finances shows that the hourly fee charged by settings for three- and four-year-old places is on average 58p higher than what they receive in funding.

Three-quarters of nurseries are facing a hike of between 5- to- 12 per cent to their staffing costs due to the rise in wages and pensions from 1 April.

Lancashire County Council has written to the Education Secretary with concerns it will not be able to provide sufficient childcare places if early years settings there continue to close.

The Early Years Alliance has launched a survey for early years providers ahead of national minimum wage increases next month.

Bertram Nursery Group, one of the largest nursery groups in the UK, has been bought by its management, with funding from Apiary Capital and Santander.

All council-run nurseries in Birmingham have been put out to tender by the council in the hope that they will be taken on by private, voluntary or social enterprise providers.

Just Childcare has acquired a group of three nurseries, while Kids Planet and Busy Bees have both added settings.

Childcare voucher providers are ramping up their campaign to re-open the scheme to parents.

A nursery provider has been forced to close one of her settings because a shortfall in funding for the free entitlement has made the business unsustainable.