One in six childcare providers could disappear this winter

Kids jumping on grass

One in six childcare providers could disappear this winter

Tulip Siddiq, shadow minister for children and early years, painted a bleak picture of the months ahead at November’s Childcare & Education Virtual Expo. 

The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn spoke of the “hammer blow” dealt to early-years providers across the country by coronavirus. “I’m sad to say that we are now approaching a winter when we could lose one in six childcare providers; potentially one in four in the most deprived areas,” she said. The Department for Education’s own data shows that over half of all nurseries and childminders don’t expect to survive until next summer. 

“This is a full-blown crisis and one that will have huge repercussions for the life chances of young children, working families and the economy. ”  The shadow minister said that the second lockdown brought with it a further drop in demand for childcare places and, as a result, the income of people working in the sector. She claimed, however, that throughout the pandemic, the case she has been making for targeted support has “fallen on deaf ears” within government. “The Chancellor has acknowledged the dire position we are in with his last-minute extension of the furlough scheme,” she said. “But he plans to stop funding early entitlements at pre-COVID levels at the end of the year, reverting to current occupancy levels which are massively reduced.  This has the potential to be the final nail in the coffin for many fantastic nurseries and childminders, at the time when they need support the most.”

All of this, she added, builds on the prevalent fear that childcare businesses are becoming unsustainable and many early-years workers will lose their jobs. “At Education Questions in Parliament last month, I challenged the children’s minister, Vicky Ford, about the doubling of COVID cases in early-years settings in the first five weeks of the autumn term and the fact that childcare workers had not been able to get tests early or quickly enough. She confirmed that you still had priority, but could give no explanation as to why this wasn’t happening, in practice. Not only is this extremely stressful for the staff involved, it also has really profound consequences for the providers who are already struggling to manage.”

Child playing with parent

In her parliamentary question, Siddiq cited one childcare facility in Surrey that had been forced to close, leaving 40 children and their parents with no childcare. “I know this is a story that has been repeated in providers across the country,” she said, “most of which were not even given any of the take-home COVID tests that schools were able to access.”

She paid tribute to the country’s “fourth emergency service” and the practitioners who have worked tirelessly to keep the early-years sector on the road. “I will always do whatever I can to fight your corner in Parliament,” she promised, inviting anyone working in the sector to contact her if there are any issues or questions they would like her to raise with the government. 

The fastest way to contact the shadow minister’s office is:

By email –

By mail – Tulip Siddiq, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA