IFS: unclear whether current registration levels will reflect actual demand

The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has put out a report today which analyses the DfE’s funding mechanism for the spring term, the January census and how their plans have changed now to include children who are registered for a place but not physically in nursery yet.IFS logo

The IFS has said in its publication Today’s early years census likely to reduce government spending on childcare significantly that it is not clear whether the current registration levels will reflect childcare demand for the rest of the year. 

The DfE has said that it will fund any additional places over and above those currently registered for the spring term up to 85% of 2020 levels. But the IFS concludes that this decision to cap funding increases at 85% seems “particularly ill-advised”. 

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “This IFS report has hit the nail on the head – overall numbers are being badly hit by absences but also parents not taking up early years places. This will mean that the decision to base council funding on this January’s census will be a poor reflection of the actual funding needs of the sector.

“Our own research with members suggests around one in five families are keeping children out of childcare settings due to concerns about Covid-19. Some of those will be registered for places and just temporarily absent, others may have de-registered or delayed start dates but will need places later this year.

“The Government needs to urgently review its approach to funding early years settings if it wants to avoid mass closures. Many of our members are worried about their ability to survive this term on the current arrangements. Without support now, providers won’t have the staff they need – or even be open full stop – by the time parents need to take up places.”

Read the full report here