Almost half of nurseries in Wales remain open for critical workers 

New research from National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has revealed the stark reality of how the Covid-19 outbreak has impacted on nurseries across Wales and the UK.NDNA Cymru logo

The survey which received responses from more than 2570 nurseries across the UK, showed that 46% of nurseries in Wales were able to remain open for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children compared to the UK average of 50%.

Across the UK, these nurseries which would usually be educating and caring for almost 140,000 children are now looking after 16,236 children, which is about 12% in total. 

NDNA Chief Executive, Purnima Tanuku OBE said: “Our new research illustrates how difficult life is for our nurseries in the UK as they try to help the national response to Covid-19.

“In Wales, less than a quarter – 24% - of nursery income on average comes from funded places, which means that for most nurseries, they are not receiving the majority of their income. It does vary widely from nursery to nursery with some relying completely on parental fees. These nurseries still have fixed overheads even with a fraction of their usual income.

“The majority of respondents to the survey do not have many funded children and funding for new children on the Childcare Offer scheme for the summer term will now go into a fund for critical workers’ children.

“NDNA is lobbying all three governments hard for more support for all nurseries without which many critical workers on the frontline such as NHS staff would not be able to carry out their essential work.

“Even with putting some staff on the Job Retention Scheme, many will struggle to keep their nursery businesses afloat. The government support does not cover the running costs of those who are staying open and won’t cover all fixed costs for those who close. We know of nurseries that are running at a loss of hundreds of pounds per day to stay open for families who need them. But they won’t be able to sustain this for long.

“Employers are facing cash flow issues now but we know funds like the Job Retention Scheme won’t be accessible until the end of April at the earliest. This is why some nurseries are having to approach parents to help keep them in business.

“It’s time the government acknowledged this and put their backing behind nurseries to make sure they can remain sustainable until life goes back to normal. The Welsh Government has extended the small business grant scheme to more nurseries, which will be a welcome relief for many in the short term. But the new economic resilience fund is currently only available to those businesses that are VAT registered, which many nurseries aren’t able to do. We need the Welsh Government to recognise this gap in the support to all childcare businesses to provide access to this extra help at this critical time.”

Our main survey findings – 

For Wales:

  • 96 respondents in Wales representing 114 nurseries
  • 21 out of 22 LAs represented 
  • 46% of nurseries said they were currently open, 54% closed
  • The average nursery in Wales receives 24% of its income through government funding
  • 68% of providers are caring for fewer than ten children on each day
  • These nurseries are currently looking after 531 children, they usually care for 4119
  • 65% of nurseries who responded said they were not asking for fees from parents
  • 21% are asking for 25% or less of usual amount from parents
  • 8% asking for 25 – 50% of fees, 6% asking for more than this

For UK:

  • 1309 separate responses representing 2570 nurseries
  • 50% of those who responded said they were currently open 
  • These nurseries currently look after 16,236  children, which is 12% of those they usually care for
  • Nurseries in the UK on average receive only 38% of their income from government funding, however 70% have said they are not charging parents for children’s places which they are unable to take up
  • 17.5% are charging parents up to 25% of their normal fees; 9% are asking for 26 – 50% and fewer than 4% of respondents are asking for more than 50% of their usual fees
  • The responses came across nearly all local authority areas in England, Wales and Scotland

Reasons nurseries might approach parents for contributions – 

  • Funded childcare payments only covering a fraction of their costs 
  • Cash flow issues caused by delay in government support schemes
  • Fixed costs such as rent, mortgages and utilities
  • Lack of insurance coverage for Covid-19