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Access to childcare falls in areas of disadvantage

By Rachel Lawler

child playing - childcare deprived areas
The number of available childcare places has fallen in areas of disadvantage, according to Ceeda’s annual report – About Early Years.
 
Growing inequality
The report found that the average number of available childcare places in areas of disadvantage has fallen from 33 per 100 children in 2016 to just 25 in 2018.
 
Meanwhile, the wealthiest areas have seen the average number of places available per 100 children rise from 32 in 2016 to 43 in 2018.
 
The quality of childcare available also differs in areas of disadvantage. The report reveals that 7% of nurseries and pre-schools in the most deprived areas are rated as ‘requires improvement’, compared to 4% in the least deprived areas.
 
Ceeda used data from Ofsted’s Early Years Register as the basis for its analysis, alongside provider surveys.
 
Average hourly pay
Surveyed providers told Ceeda that the average hourly pay for a childcare practitioner was just 2p more than the average wage for bar staff or cleaners at £8.47.
 
84% of providers who said they were recruiting also reported struggling to find new staff to fill the vacancies.
 
Jo Verrill, managing director at Ceeda, said: “Declining sector capacity in areas of disadvantage is a major cause for concern, and it is set to get worse as provider costs increase and funding rates stand still.
 
“Providers operating in deprived areas are lease able to offset losses on funded hours with private fee income, and it is children who stand to gain the most from high quality early education that are at risk of losing out.”
 
Social mobility
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “How can the government talk about the importance of social mobility when chronic childcare underfunding has meant that those families with the greatest need, and those children who would benefit most from high-quality provision, are the ones who face the most difficulties accessing places? If ministers are genuinely serious about ‘closing the gap’ and improving the life chances of the most vulnerable children, it simply must invest what’s needed to support a quality, accessible and sustainable childcare system in this country.”
 
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