Nurseries reopening to a third of children: 71% expect to make a loss

Nurseries who are able to welcome all children back to settings from this week face an uncertain future with almost three-quarters (71%) expecting to run at a loss until September.Purnima Tanuku OBE

Findings from a snapshot survey by National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has revealed the stark reality of how the Covid-19 outbreak will continue to impact on nurseries across England even as they start to take more children.

The results showed that demand for places will not be as high as before the crisis with nurseries planning for an average of just over a third (35%) of their usual numbers of children coming back straight away. 

To welcome children back safely nurseries have implemented a range of new measures including comprehensive risk assessments, keeping children and staff to small groups inside settings, new infection control measures and dividing up spaces to allow children to play and learn freely within their smaller groups.

With the reduced demand and increased costs associated with operating safely, just under three quarters (71%) of respondents expected to operate at a loss in the coming three months. A further 23% said they would break even. When asked about the coming months 4% said that without further support they were likely to close permanently.

Over 80% of respondents were planning to re-open from the first of June but 14% said they planned to open at a later date. A further 4% would only be looking after critical worker children or have already closed their doors altogether.

NDNA Chief Executive, Purnima Tanuku OBE said: “A huge amount of work has gone into preparations for nurseries to operate safely and welcome more children from this week. Some really innovative ideas and solutions have been put in place to minimise any risks to children and staff.  It’s important that parents are re-assured that their children can have access to high quality learning opportunities in a safe environment.

“What we are seeing is nurseries and other childcare providers facing increased costs to make these changes and looking at much lower demand than usual for the coming weeks and months.

“It is clearly not sustainable to have almost three quarters of providers running at a loss and most of the rest only just breaking even. The tragedy is that some settings have not been able to re-open and 4% are looking at potential closure in the near future. If this continues more settings are bound to move from making a loss into considering closing as well.

“The Government needs to act now and bring in a recovery and transformation fund to help providers weather this challenging period. Local authorities have revealed they share our concerns for the sustainability of early years as well. This type of fund is essential to support early years’ providers to be sustainable as demand for places slowly recovers. 

“Many nurseries and childcare providers have stayed open through this crisis to support critical workers keep our country going. If we want the economy to recover we need a sustainable and viable childcare sector to ensure parents can work and children can access high quality early education.”

The survey was conducted over the last four days, with 528 respondents representing single site nurseries and those in groups or larger chains covering over 1,000 nursery sites.