A group of nurseries has closed affecting up to 450 families across Norfolk and Suffolk, after Great Yarmouth Community Trust went into liquidation following serious financial difficulties.

Some 136 staff are also facing redundancy following the closure of the Trust which ran eight nurseries and two educational facilities. The Little People's Montessori nursery in Norwich, a subsidiary of the Trust, is not affected.

The Trust’s report on finances for the previous year highlighted a number of areas of concern. These included the fact that its current children’s centre contract came to an end in March 2019 and that statutory funding for childcare was “not increasing in line with costs, particularly 30-hour funding”.

Norfolk and Suffolk county councils have said they are working to reopen the nurseries or provide alternatives, given the high proportion of nursery places affected.

Web pages providing information for parents have been set up by the two councils in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:

“This hasn’t happened in a vacuum. We’ve warned and warned ministers about the impact underfunding is having on providers - and each of these warnings have been backed up by statistics: it’s a matter of record that fewer than half of parents accessing funded places get them genuinely ‘free’, and thousands of providers, particularly in poorer areas, are closing at an unprecedented rate.”

“Instead of listening to us and taking action, we’ve had a raft of policies from all parties’ that will make these sort of closures even more likely. We simply can’t go on like this and it’s high time we had an honest conversation about the true cost of delivering childcare the real impact of ever more generous ‘free’ hours on both parents and providers.”

Last reviewed 9 December 2019