More than 500 childcare providers are closing each month, according to new data published by Ofsted.

The figures were revealed by Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman in response to a Parliamentary Question from shadow early years minister Tracy Brabin, who asked: “How many Ofsted registered (a) nurseries and (b) childminders have closed for business in each of the last 12 months?”

Data provided by Ofsted confirmed that:

  • between April and August 2018, on average, 577 early years providers (196 nurseries and pre-schools, and 381 childminders) left the Early Years Register each month

  • between September and December 2018, an average of 554 early years providers closed each month (164 nurseries and pre-schools, and 390 childminders)

  • between January and March 2019, on average, 580 early years providers (179 nurseries and pre-schools, and 401 childminders) closed each month.

Early years organisations are calling for increased investment in the sector and are warning of a looming “childcare crisis”. Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:

“To lose well over 500 nurseries, pre-schools and childminders every month is simply not sustainable. If more isn’t done to ensure that the sector is adequately funded as a matter of priority, we are going to have a genuine childcare crisis on our hands in this country before too long.”

“With a general election now imminent, we know that our sector is likely to once again be used as a political football, as the various political parties fight to out-do each other with their promises of ‘free childcare’ to parents without taking the time to ensure that their sums actually add up.”

“These figures show where such an approach leads. As such, in the run-up to 12 December, we urge all political parties not to make outlandish, uncosted and ill-thought-out pledges, but rather, to engage with the sector and commit to ensuring that providers are given the funding they need to remain sustainable in the long-term.”

Ofsted’s full response is available here.

Last reviewed 18 November 2019