Childcare : A Vital Clog For Anyone Juggling Work With Caring : Trouble Is , Where Is It And How Much ? Sector News

Existing thread … SMOKE AND MIRRORS … has a few articles on the problems with the Government’s scheme …
worth surfing over there for more background :\

Also , CUK’s own initiated thread is relevant here … childcare being citied as an important factor :


Childcare is also running into problems … several locals are finding the costs too high in relation to their wages.

In addition , the smaller nurseries are shutting up shop in the poorer areas … case of being squeezed both ends
… in costs , and the income coming in.

( Same problem in reverse … adult daycare centres … find one open and affordable ! … elderly caree with a son /
daughter as the carer … as I was in my time ! )



Childcare problems cost families millions new research claims.

Problems finding childcare is costing families £1.2 billion each year in lost earnings, according to new analysis from Save the Children.

The charity estimates that 89,000 mothers of children under five are unable to work because of childcare issues. It says that this represents a total of £3.4 million each day in lost earnings, or between £3,400 and £11,400 per family.


**Good, affordable nursery care benefits us all – but it’s nowhere to be found.

Private nurseries are a boon for entrepreneurs, but – for all the sanctification of motherhood – women who are exhausting themselves to work are the people we actually care about least**


My daughter has been looking at nurseries. I must admit it is a long time since I had to think about that kind of thing. What I have learned is that babies are more expensive than ever. Turns out you can no longer just put them in a drawer, and they have to be wheeled around in contraptions that cost more than an old banger. But childcare – well, childcare is impossible. The old feminist demand for free creches went the way of the habit some women used to have of demanding men pee sitting down.

Private nurseries have sprung up everywhere. The babies will be fed gourmet mush and entertained non-stop while their parents work every hour they can to pay for this.

Coram Family and Childcare’s latest survey estimates that the average price for full-time nursery care for a child under two in inner London – 50 hours a week – is £330. But fewer than two thirds of councils report having anything approaching this provision. The government is meant to provide some free childcare for certain families when kids turn three, for 38 weeks of the year – you know, to help those people who only work 38 weeks a year!

All of this is a boon for private entrepreneurs who are setting up childcare businesses and paying nursery nurses a minimum wage. Many women are exhausting themselves to work, with very little of their salary left over. I relied on childminders, friends, grants and a free nursery place. I now know that was another era altogether.

Good nursery care is good for mothers and good for small children. Therefore, it is good for all of us. Sometimes its seems that, despite all the sanctification of motherhood that goes on, they are the people we care least about. Oh, and I haven’t mentioned fathers. Because, as we know, there are absolutely no issues to be solved there …

• Suzanne Moore is a Guardian columnist.

*INTERLOCKING … that dreaded word again … zero hour contracts ?\

Friends of one of my immediate neighbours … husband / wife / son , aged 5.

Both want to work … only option is zero hour contracts … both were recently called in at 4 hours notice … night shift
… six nights a week … 8 hours shifts … 8 weeks worth … and , for once , the money was reasonable … £ 9.25 per hour.

Only one problem ?

No one … at such short notice … to care for their son.

Dare they mention that on their UC journal ???

( One took the offer on … the other had to refuse it. )

**Childcare might become " Available only in rich areas. "

Childcare in England risks becoming the preserve of the wealthy, unless a £660m funding gap in a free childcare scheme is plugged, MPs are warning.**


**_Severe financial strain has been placed on private and independent nurseries offering the government’s flagship free 30-hours scheme, they report.

And those operating in poor areas are more likely to be threatened with closure, they say.

The government said low income families received help with childcare costs.
The national scheme offers parents of all three and four-year-olds 30 hours of free childcare a week - up from 15 hours in 2017.

But early years providers have long said the level at which these hours are funded by a government grant has meant operators have had to find other ways of making up the difference.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Childcare and Early Education heard evidence of a potential reduction in nursery places in deprived areas, while in affluent areas an increase in places looks likely.

This was highlighted by Nicole Politis, director of the Portico Nursery Group, who told the parliamentary inquiry that she had a number of nurseries in different socio-economic areas.


She said: "Three years ago, nurseries in these deprived areas were completely full.

"Now, those in affluent areas are full, and in deprived areas the numbers of children attending are so low that I’m having to close them.

"Sadly, some parents cannot afford the additional fees, and this is being exacerbated by the roll-out of Universal Credit.

“In the end, this means that the [30-hours] scheme is not always reaching the most vulnerable families.”

The APPG report said: “Should this trend continue, we risk facing a situation where only wealthy families are able to access childcare services, leading to significant reductions in educational opportunities for children, as well as more challenges to parents looking to go back into work.”


According to the National Day Nurseries Association, the rate at which early years providers are closing has increased by 66% since the introduction of the scheme, and they are closing fastest in more deprived areas.

Tulip Siddiq MP, chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Childcare and Early Education, said: "We know that the early years are hugely important to a child’s physical and mental development and future life chances.

“However, there is a significant body of evidence to demonstrate that childcare providers are battling to achieve and maintain financial sustainability, and that government policies are a major cause of this challenge.”

Children and Families Minister Nadham Zahawi said there had been a huge increase in the number of children benefitting from 30 hours free childcare.

He added that this meant parents were spending less on childcare and could work more flexibly._**

Working and caring … claiming Carers Allowance … and with young children ?

Even when you manage to juggle all the balls , you will still be working for " Poverty pay. "

Rough guide … £ 15k per annum per person … at best £ 9.5k per annum … NOT EVEN two thirds of the way there !

" Working is the way out of poverty. "


Over 500 nurseries and childminders are closing every month, figures show.


In the past year, a total of 6,843 providers left Ofsted’s early years register, with nursery bosses warning of a looming “childcare crisis”.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said that the “nail in the coffin” for nurseries has been the Government’s flagship childcare policy. Under the policy, working parents who earn up to £100,000 each are entitled to 30 hours of free childcare for three to four-year-olds, which is double the 15 hours they were previously entitled to.

The multi-billion pound taxpayer funded scheme, which came into force in September 2017, was aimed at encouraging parents to get back into work rather than getting put off by prohibitive childcare costs.

But Mr Leitch said that the policy is bankrupting nurseries because the hourly rate they are paid by the Government is far below their true cost, while other costs have increased.

“Business rates and the national minimum wage have increased,” he said. “If you have a hike in the minimum wage, it does impact us because a huge amount of our workforce is on minimum wage, it has a disproportionate effect on a sector that is really low paid. If the Government doesn’t change what it pays you someone has to pick up the tab.”

The Early Years Alliance said unless steps are taken to ensure the sector is adequately funded, there will be a “genuine childcare crisis on our hands”.

Ofsted said that providers have their registration automatically cancelled if they have not paid their fees, so some will be reinstated to the register once they have paid.

They added that the data does not take into account childminders who come off the register and then come back on again at a later date.

A report published last year suggested that free childcare has helped push up nursery costs for families to more than £6,300 a year.

The study by the Family and Childcare Trust found that sending a child in Britain aged under two to nursery part-time, for 25 hours a week, now costs £122 - up 7 per cent on last year.


Special needs child? Need childcare? Forget it!

This explains why I had so many issues finding a suitable childcare provider. I spent a lot of time when I was not doing anything else, just looking online on childcare websites. It took months. After a year of searching, I successfully hired a decent childcare provider who did not freak out when I asked if she was comfortable with catheters and bowel and bladder issues. It is definitely hard, isn’t it? But it can be done is what I’m saying. All you need is persistence or a willingness to adapt and pool resources when you hit a wall whilst searching.

First really noticeable in poorer areas … now spreading up the food chain.

Major problem here in Worksop … zero hours contracts … phone call comes in … no one to look after the kids / caree.

Even then , the costs involved … 2 hours work to pay for 1 hour child minding / nursery placement … the latter even more difficult as half have closed their doors over the past year.

If on night work , forget it !

Good point. For many special needs families getting childcare is a issue. It was actually much easier for me. I could have chosen a nursery for him but what I really wanted was a private childcare provider instead.

I made formal complaints to Social Services about the lack of any respite, and was then punished when some became available, M’s name was taken off the list!!!
It was only available because I formed and ran a charity for all children with special needs in my area!

Wow that is unfair!

**One in four childcare providers could close as 30 hours free funding falls short.

" The high cost of childcare pushes women out of work as in many cases it is equal to or more than their income. Women out of work means they are not represented," says campaigner.**


One in four childcare providers expect to close next year due to insufficient funding to subsidise the government’s flagship 30 hours’ free childcare offer, new research has found.

The study, conducted by campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed, found 92 per cent of childcare providers are undergoing financial difficulties due to the scheme.

Some 96 per cent of the 266 childcare providers polled for the research say the government subsidy to run the 30 hours’ “free” childcare programme does not cover costs.

The study comes after the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) found the UK has one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world.

The latest research into childcare providers also found that 71 per cent say they have struggled to recruit new staff, while 90 per cent think childcare workers are poorly paid.

Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, said: “Our research demonstrates that the government’s approach to childcare just is not working. The offer of 30 free hours sounds good on paper but, in reality, it is manifestly inadequate for the scope required.

“As it stands mothers get a year of maternity leave, with only nine months paid. So, there are two years when they either have to stay at home or bear the brunt of the high cost of childcare. With the government imposing 30 “free” hours on childcare providers from three years onwards – for just 38 weeks of the year – these providers are recouping costs from younger years.

“This necessary action to stay in business is the key reason behind mothers being unable to return to work because of the high costs, further adding to the motherhood penalty and gender pay gap.”

Ms Brearley argued the government needs to create childcare infrastructure that “works for everyone” – ensuring that nurseries do not shut their doors but maintain a high standard of care so parents can simply set off for work without suffering the “burden of high-cost childcare”.

The research found 63 per cent of childcare providers think childcare workers are overworked – with 69 per cent arguing the dearth of skilled workers has had a detrimental effect on them.

Aceil Haddad, head of press at the campaign group, said: “The deficit in funding for the government’s 30-hours scheme means that earlier care is more expensive, or there are add-on costs for parents, eg, paying for lunchtime care, paying for every minute they are late after pick-up.

“The high cost of childcare pushes women out of work as, in many cases, it is equal to or more than their income. Women out of work means they are not represented and assumptions are made about the role of women in work – ‘don’t hire her, she will leave when she has kids’ attitude.”

Last month, research by the organisation found almost a fifth of parents have been forced into quitting their jobs due to the extortionate cost of childcare in the UK.

The study found the high price of childcare causes financial anxiety in 84 per cent of households. Some 62 per cent said they have been pushed into working fewer hours due to the cost of childcare.

**" Free " childcare offer will lead to more nursery closures, finds research’

Nearly a quarter of childcare providers predict they could close next year due to insurmountable financial pressures resulting from delivering the government’s 30 hours " Free " childcare offer, new research shows.**


A survey carried out by campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed among 266 childcare providers found 92 per cent said the 30-hour offer, introduced in September 2017 to three- and four-year-olds of working parents, was causing them financial challenges.

The poll revealed almost all of the providers questioned (96 per cent) said the government subsidy to operate the funded childcare offer did not cover their costs.

This financial strain placed upon childcare providers meant 22 per cent of those surveyed said they did not believe they would still be open this time next year.

Further findings show nearly three quarters (71 per cent) of providers are having problems recruiting new staff, with 91 per cent reporting a lack of skilled childcare workers in the pool.

The survey also revealed around a quarter (24 per cent) of providers felt forced to use supply staff from agencies on a regular basis.

Furthermore, around 60 per cent of providers said they thought childcare workers were overworked and 90 per cent felt they were badly paid.

The campaign group said the findings reflected the “turmoil” being experienced by the UK’s childcare sector, recently ranked by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as the second most expensive childcare in the world.

Joeli Brearley, the group’s founder, said its research among childcare providers showed the government’s approach to childcare was “not working”.

“The offer of 30 free hours sounds good on paper, but in reality, it is manifestly inadequate for the scope required,” she said.

Brearley said mothers entitled to only nine months’ paid maternity leave were being forced to stay at home or “bear the brunt” of the high cost of childcare.

"With the government imposing 30 ‘free’ hours on childcare providers from three years onwards for just 38 weeks of the year, providers are recouping costs from younger years.

“This necessary action to stay in business is the key reason behind mothers being unable to return to work because of the high costs, further adding to the motherhood penalty and gender pay gap,” she said.

Responding to the survey, the Early Years Alliance said its findings “paint a grim picture” of the sector’s future, highlighting thousands of childcare providers that had already had to close.

Neil Leitch, the alliance’s chief executive, said: "The reasons behind these closures are rarely complicated.

"I’ve spoken to hundreds of high-quality providers, all of them cherished by local families that have simply been unable to cope with the financial burden so-called ‘free’ childcare places on them.

"Many more continue to survive only because parents can afford to subsidise supposedly funded hours by paying higher fees and voluntary charges.

“The hard truth is that this is unavoidable when the gap between the true cost of delivering those hours and the funding received stands at two thirds of a billion pounds and is growing all the time,” he said.

A Coram survey of local authorities in February revealed the 30-hour offer is leaving early years providers struggling to cope financially.

It found 36 per cent of councils felt the government-funded entitlement was having a negative impact on the financial sustainability of childcare providers.

Ten nurseries close leaving 450 families without childcare.


The Great Yarmouth Community Trust has entered liquidation, impacting up to 450 families.

The nurseries which have closed are Calthorpe Nursery, Peggotty Nursery, Priory Day Nursery and Willow Day Nursery - all of which are in Great Yarmouth.

The Seagulls Day Nursery in Gorleston has also shut its doors.

MORE : Next to go ?

A further three nurseries which have closed are the Ladybird Day Care at Kirkley Children’s Centre, the Little Ducks Day Nursery - both in Lowestoft - and the Little Blossoms Nursery in Filby.

In addition, the charitable trust runs the Horatio House school in Lowestoft and Nexus Engineering in Gorleston - both of which have closed.

The Little People’s Montessori nursery in Norwich is a subsidiary of the Trust but will not be affected by the liquidation.

Both Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils are working to re-open the nurseries or provide alternative nursery provision as quickly as possible.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: "We are hopeful of offering new jobs to the vast majority of the front-line Norfolk nursery staff. It is our ambition to get nursery provision for children and parents back on track as soon as possible.

“We are also discussing with the Department for Education how best to minimise disruption to the education of the 19 Norfolk children at Horatio House independent school in Suffolk. We will be making tutors available to each child while new arrangements are made.”

Although the county council does not run the Trust its role is to ensure there is sufficient childcare places provided in each Norfolk community.

Executive director of Children’s Services at Norfolk County Council, Sara Tough, said: "We are sad that the Great Yarmouth Community Trust and its staff, who have supported many children and families over the years, have found themselves in this position.

“Norfolk County Council is taking urgent action to minimise the impact of the Trust’s insolvency on children and families.”

Lee Green, partner at MHA Larking Gowen, which is advising the trust and handling the liquidation, said: “Unfortunately the Great Yarmouth Community Trust has experienced serious financial difficulties and as from today the business will cease to trade. The liquidation process will begin in the next two weeks.”

Andrew Forrest, executive director at the Great Yarmouth Community Trust, said: "In recent years we have been experiencing financial difficulties and it has now become clear that our business is no longer viable.

"We have been working with insolvency experts and Norfolk County Council to do all we can to minimise the impact for those who use or visit our services.

“I am sorry for the disruption and uncertainty that the current position is causing for local families and for our valued staff.”

Labour county councillor Mike Smith-Clare, said: "As a councillor for families living in the area affected by this shocking news - my thoughts go to those who have lost their jobs, their care and their education.

"It is disgraceful that I hear of this catastrophe through the media - and even more appalling that as Labour’s county lead on children and young people I received no prior warning from either the leader of the council or representative from children’s services.

"Families will be devastated by this news, particularly following the closure of children’s centres. I want to know how long these difficulties have been known?

“Why we weren’t told and what is being done to help those affected by yet another closure of a lifeline service?”

For more information, parents in Norfolk should contact Norfolk County Council on 01603 306300 to discuss possible future child care arrangements.

Parents in Suffolk should contact Suffolk County Council’s Family Information Service on 03456 080033.

A follow on article to the last one … collapse of the trusts running childcare centres in Great Yarmouth :

Mum out of pocket after ten nurseries collapse holding her child’s party payment.


Alice Dallimore, from Great Yarmouth, made an enquiry about booking the Priory Centre hall in Great Yarmouth for the February bash and received a telephone call on Tuesday asking her to pay.

The 27-year-old then called in at around 3pm on Tuesday - the day before the collapse - and paid the full amount in cash, because they said there was no other way to pay.

On hearing about the collapse of Great Yarmouth Community Trust she and her mother Beverley Dallimore went back to the venue to find it all locked up.

Now an unsecured creditor … for many , £ 60 is a small fortune.

**Children’s’ " Safety at risk " as shocking encounters at Cherub nurseries in Hull and Beverley uncovered.

Ofsted says the three nurseries are inadequate and has issued legal notices for them to improve.**


A chain of three Cherub nurseries have been rated as “inadequate” in damning Ofsted reports which uncovered risks to children’s safety.

Cherub Nursery in Leads Road, east Hull, Cherub Childcare in Lindsey Place, west Hull, and Cherub Nurseries and Pre-School in Woodmansey Mile, Beverley, have all now been served with a legal notice which demands immediate action to improve. Together they care for 300 children.

Inspectors witnessed staff ignoring crying babies, unfit for purpose premises, and noted staff who were not properly vetted were employed without references and also without relevant training.

Inspectors found safeguarding arrangements were “not effective” at all three nurseries run by Cherub Nurseries and Pre Schools Limited, which was established in 1976.

The three reports reveal inspectors’ concerns after witnessing staff who lacked “safe sleeping routines knowledge” placing tiny babies at the top of the cot with a pillow, with soother chains still attached to their bibs.

Other staff let children as young as two lay down to sleep with a bottle in their mouth and failed to supervise “risky” play.

Inspectors also found staff who don’t wash their own or children’s hands and noted safeguarding as a problem in all three nurseries.

At the Leads Road nursery, inspectors said children’s wellbeing was not being protected.

Staff hired in Beverley were given jobs without being properly vetted, whilst at the Lindsey Place site staff were “completely unaware” of the potential impact on children’s wellbeing from unsafe practices.

Inspectors also found funding for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) was not always used appropriately.

Until the most recent inspections, all three nurseries were rated by Ofsted as good, but each is now classed as “inadequate”.

Inspectors witnessed children left without key workers in “chaotic” environments and said children were not taught properly due to staff having a lack of knowledge and understanding of the early years practice.

Inspectors also noted premises which were not fit for purpose and found breaches of child/staff ratios at the nurseries, which provide funded early years education for two, three and four-year-old children.

" Babies’ cries ignored " at Beverley

At Beverley, where there are 50 children, inspectors found :

Continuing weaknesses in leadership and management have a serious impact on children’s welfare, wellbeing, care and learning. This has led to a significant decline in the quality of care and education.

The provision for babies is extremely poor because staff do not have the skills they need to meet their needs. Babies are very often unsettled. A manager did not have “suitable” experience.

Staff do not seek to soothe them and at times ignore their cries. They do not provide warm, consistent care.

Recruitment and vetting procedures are weak. Gaps in staff’s employment history have not been addressed and references from previous employers have not been obtained. This does not keep children safe.

" Children allowed online without safety awareness " at Leads Road

At Leads Road, east Hull, where there are 77 children, inspectors found :

The manager has not ensured staff working with babies hold relevant qualifications.

Funding for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) is not always used appropriately.

Staff recognise that young children often have access to a range of technology, allowing access to the internet. However, they have failed to consider how to support children to safely use technology.

Significant weaknesses continue to emerge due to ineffective monitoring of staff and the manager’s practice.

Children’s wellbeing, safety and the quality of learning and care they receive are significantly compromised.

Weaknesses in teaching across the nursery result in children taking part in activities which lack purpose and challenge.

The provider lacks knowledge and understanding of early years practice.

" Young children’s safety compromised " at Lindsey Place

At Lindsey Place, west, Hull, where there are 83 children, inspectors found :

The manager does not effectively monitor staff practice. This results in ongoing poor practice that has a significant impact on children’s safety.

They lack knowledge of current safe sleeping routines and place young babies at the top of the cot on a pillow to sleep, with soother chains still attached to their bibs.

Young children’s safety is compromised.

Staff do not supervise risky play because they are failing to identify the potential risks to children’s safety.

Cherub Nurseries and Pre Schools Limited has been contacted for comment.

On its website, Cherub Nurseries describes itself as: “A large company providing high quality pre-school education to over 300 children across the city of Hull and the East Riding, from the age of 6 weeks to 5 years.”

Its website says it is the “ideal choice” for parents looking for “excellent quality childcare.”

Working families were promised more help in the election, but critics say even the current 30 hours " Free " childcare is failing.

Full time nursery places costs parents a whopping £1,000 on average in England.

The scheme’s meant to help 600,000 families but only 340,000 have benefited.

Around 580 childcare providers close monthly as they struggle with costs.
Early Years Alliance says government’s £66m pledge adds a mere 8p an hour.

Critics say 30 hours 'free' childcare is failing families | Daily Mail Online

Childcare Offer for Wales : Parents " Shocked " by bills.


**_Confusion over a free childcare scheme has led to some parents receiving unexpected bills, a report has found.

Working parents of three and four-year-olds in Wales are entitled to 30 hours of free childcare a week for up to 48 weeks of the year.

Researchers found some parents were using up their entitlement early and receiving unexpected bills for some school holiday childcare.

The Welsh Government said the free childcare offer was helping families.

First introduced in pilot areas in 2017, the Welsh Government’s flagship policy entitles working parents to 20 hours free childcare on top of the existing 10 hours of early education provision.

During the school holidays, when there is no early education, the offer provides 30 hours a week of childcare for up to nine weeks.

This is provided by registered childcare providers, such as nurseries, child minders and playgroups, who have signed up to the scheme.

An official research study for the Welsh Government shows that while it is saving families hundreds of pounds, there is still confusion about how the scheme works.

One parent said they were “extremely shocked” to get a bill for over £800 for childcare one month during the summer after not realising their entitlement had run out.

Another said she had been left with a large bill at the end of the holidays after not realising she was not entitled to the full period.

The report said there was also confusion over how the offer affects tax credits and issues with self-employed parents proving their eligibility.

It recommends more guidance is made available for parents about their childcare entitlement over the holiday months.

Who is entitled to it ?

All parents of three and four-year-olds can already access the early education entitlement of 10 hours a week during school term time.

To be eligible for the Childcare Offer for Wales - an additional 20 hours of childcare during term time, and 30 hours of childcare for nine weeks during the school holidays - you must have a child within the age range and earn on average a weekly minimum equivalent of 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage.

Each parent must earn less than £100,000 per year.

If you are in a lone parent family you need to be working and if you are in a two parent family you both need to be working.

According to the report, an average of 13,500 children a month access the scheme.

What do parents think of scheme ?

Mother-of-two Sarah Rees from Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, said the current system discriminated against student parents and those on zero-hour contracts.

Ms Rees, who is studying to become a lawyer and tutors part-time, said the cost of childcare made it impossible for parents to go back to work.

She has written to the Welsh Government to ask them to change the rules to help parents returning to employment.

“One child means a bill of £500 a week, two kids or more - it’s not worth going to work,” she said.

“It’s time the Welsh Government listened to parents and made the change parents need, like access for those on zero hours contracts, basing the limit on household income and allowing parents in study to have some help too.”

Another mother said while the free childcare had helped, it was a “minefield” as she had to pay for time her daughter was not there due to the way the nursery operated.

“It’s easier to be out of work than trying to work and earning a decent wage after paying for childcare,” she said.

Some mothers in Caerphilly said the free childcare had been a huge help and allowed them to return to work, one said with no family nearby it had helped her feel “like me again”.

A Welsh Government spokesman said the childcare offer was delivering “positive benefits for families across Wales”.

“More than eight out of 10 people have more disposable income as a result and more than half feel work-related decisions are more flexible. It also found there are more opportunities for training, learning and development,” he said.

“We are considering all the issues raised in the evaluation. In the meantime, we would encourage families across Wales to see if they can benefit from the childcare offer.”_**

**Warning saved nurseries may not prove to be financially viable.

Not all of the nurseries which were saved by Norfolk County Council will necessarily be financially viable in the long-term, it has been warned.**


**_When Great Yarmouth Community Trust called in the liquidators in November, six Norfolk nurseries closed.

The closure of the nurseries affected about 300 children, but the county council stepped in to get them re-opened.

The council created a new company, NCC Nurseries Ltd which re-opened the nurseries last month, employing staff who had worked for the trust.

Extra support is being provided by county council staff.

The affected Norfolk nurseries were Priory Day Nursery, Peggotty Nursery, Calthorpe Nursery, and Willow Day Nursery all in Great Yarmouth, Seagulls Day Nursery in Gorleston and Filby Nursery.

At a meeting of the Conservative-controlled cabinet this week, the business plan for the council-owned company which took over the nurseries was approved.

Councillors were told that the company’s objective was to be financially viable and was aiming to break even for March 2021.

The budget drawn up is for £1.1m income and £1.1m expenditure.

But officers acknowledge the initial budget was based upon limited information due to the need to get the nurseries reopened quickly.

The report stated: "Until the business has been operational for two to three months, there will remain significant uncertainty as to the level of income, the ongoing operational costs and, therefore, the financial viability of each individual nursery.

"During the reporting period, the directors will review each nursery regarding its financial viability, and this may have a significant impact upon the overall company’s financial position.

“The financial viability review will include consideration of the charges to parents and carers for privately funded provision.”

Ultimately, the company will also seek alternative providers to run the nurseries, so it can withdraw from the sector at “an appropriate time”.
Graham Plant, deputy leader of the council, said the closures had been a “heavy blow for Yarmouth”, but communities welcomed the council’s quick work to get them open again._**

Childcare costs: Parents of children under two pay 5% more

A report has found parents in England, Scotland and Wales are paying 5% more on childcare for under-twos than a year ago - and 4% more for two-year-olds.

Like care costs for carers, childcare costs are rising because of rising costs of wages due to living wage and pension rules. Direct pay payments, the amount local authorities pay for care and the amount the government are paying for “free” childcare aren’t keeping up with real costs.

Childcare costs: Parents of children under two pay 5% more

A report has found parents in England, Scotland and Wales are paying 5% more on childcare for under-twos than a year ago - and 4% more for two-year-olds.

Like care costs for carers, childcare costs are rising because of rising costs of wages due to living wage and pension rules. Direct pay payments, the amount local authorities pay for care and the amount the government are paying for “free” childcare aren’t keeping up with real costs.

Budget boost for government’s tax-free childcare scheme

System to use cashless payment apps like ParentPay, used by 3 million people

This scheme is for working families, including the self-employed, in the UK with children under 12 (under 17 if disabled). Parents open an online account to pay for registered childcare – a childminder, nursery, nanny, after-school club, playscheme and so on. However, your childcare provider must be signed up to the scheme.

For every £8 you pay in, the government adds an extra £2, up to £2,000 a year for each child. That’s up to £500 every three months. If you have a disabled child, you can receive up to £4,000 per child.


o benefit from tax-free childcare, you must each earn a minimum amount – at least £1,707 in total over the next three months – but less than £100,000 a year. If you or your partner is on maternity or paternity leave, or unable to work due to disability or caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible.

You can use tax-free childcare all year round, including during school holidays.

Parents need to sign back in every three months and confirm that their details are up to date to keep getting government top-ups.

I could have done with this when S was at school. After school care was expensive - especially when I couldn’t find a childminder and had to use specialised after school care.