Calderdale sees sharpest fall in Yorkshire for early year providers

Across the region 61 early years providers were lost during the first five months of the pandemic, Ofsted figures have revealed.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 3:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 3:42 pm
Coun Adam Wilkinson, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services,
Coun Adam Wilkinson, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services,

Between March 2020 and August 2020, Ofsted Registration data shows that the number of early years providers dropped by 61 in Yorkshire and the Humber, representing an overall decline of 1.1 per cent.

This meant that 525 of early years places were lost in the area, the NationalWorld investigation reveals.

The decline of early years providers across Yorkshire and the Humber is the third highest regionally in England, with the North East seeing the highest drop with an overall decline of 1.5 per cent, followed by the East Midlands with 1.2 per cent.

By local authority Calderdale saw the sharpest fall in providers in the region, with a drop of seven providers lost in area (an overall decline of 3.2 per cent), between March and August - the eighth highest drop nationally.

Coun Adam Wilkinson, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, said: "Giving Calderdale’s children the best possible start in life and supporting their care needs is extremely important to us.

“The combined impact of existing national funding issues for the childcare sector and the restrictions due to COVID-19 have led to an incredibly turbulent and distressing time for the sector and local families, and we are sorry that seven providers have sadly had to close in Calderdale."

Coun Wilkinson added: "We are still meeting our statutory childcare duty, as there is a sufficient number of providers in the borough to meet childcare needs."

East Riding of Yorkshire followed with an overall decline of 2.7 per cent (12th highest drop in England) while a drop of 2.6 per cent saw Barnsley record the third highest decline in the region (14th in England).

Both local authorities were contacted by The Yorkshire Post for response.

In the region North East Lincolnshire was least affected, gaining three providers (+2.8 per cent) during the same time-frame.

Across Yorkshire and the Humber, the number of providers fell by 0.4 per cent above the average decline of 0.7 per cent across England.

Nationwide, almost three early years providers were lost every day on average during the first five months of the pandemic, with a fall in childminders driving the majority of the decline.

By local authority the highest figures recorded were seen in Darlington, in the North East, with an overall 4.3 per cent decline, followed by Sunderland (-4.1 per cent) and then Cornwall (- 3.8 per cent.)

The overall decline across England suggests that providers struggled to remain viable through the first lockdown, when all but vulnerable and key worker children were instructed to stay at home.

In September 2020, an Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report warned the first lockdown was “likely to have damaged the financial health of many childcare providers, even after accounting for major government support programmes”.

It estimated that a quarter of private sector nurseries unable to collect parent fees during lockdown may have run a “significant deficit”, with at least £5 of costs for every £4 of income.

For childminders, it estimated almost 30 per cent who lost parental fees were likewise earning less than £4 of income for every £5 of costs in the early part of 2020.

According to the Early Years Alliance, financial problems in the early years sector have been long-standing, with the group recently accusing ministers in England of “shamelessly [and] knowingly” underfunding the sector for the past decade.

Sara Bonetti, director of early years at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), says the pandemic worsened an “already precarious” situation for the childcare sector, with nurseries already struggling to manage budgets and recruit staff pre-Covid.

Earlier this week a NationalWorld investigation revealed early years providers in England closed more than twice as fast in rural areas than urban areas during pandemic.

Analysis of Ofsted figures shows that the total number of early years providers in England fell by 1.1 per cent in predominantly rural areas between March 2020 and August 2020.

The picture across Yorkshire by local authority

1. Calderdale: Lost seven provides (overall decline of 3.2 percent) and 167 early learning places lost - 8th worst nationally

2. East Riding of Yorkshire: - nine providers (- 2.7 per cent decline) and 90 early learning places lost - 12th worst in England

3. Barnsley: - six providers (- 2.6 per cent) and 93 early learning places lost - (14th nationally)

4. Wakefield: - eight providers (- 2.4 per cent) eight early learning places lost (18th nationally)

5. Kirklees: - 10 providers (- 2.1 per cent), 110 places lost (22nd nationally)

6. Sheffield: - six providers (1.3 per cent), seven places lost (39th nationally)

7. Leeds: - 13 providers (- 1.3 per cent), 260 places lost (40th nationally)

8. Doncaster: - three provides (- 0.9 per cent), two places lost (57th nationally)

9. Kingston upon Hull: - one provider (- 0.6 per cent), increased 37 places (70th nationally)

10. Bradford: - three providers (0.5 per cent), increased by nine places (75th nationally)

11. North Yorkshire: - two providers (- 0.3 per cent), stayed the same with places (87th nationally)

12. York: zero change with providers (98th nationally)

13. Rotherham: + 0.7 per cent overall (134th nationally)

14. North Lincolnshire: +1.3 per cent (141th nationally)

15. North East Lincolnshire +2.8 per cent (150th nationally)

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