Councils concerned about nursery capacity according to LGA research

New research by the Local Government Association (LGA) has revealed that nearly nine in ten councils are concerned about nursery capacity ahead of the rollout of the Government's extension of the 30 hours free childcare scheme.

The scheme, which was announced in March, will see every child in an eligible working family aged from nine months to five years entitled to 30 hours of free childcare each week by September 2025. It is currently available to parents from the start of the next school term after a child turns three.

The LGA survey of 150 councils found that most respondents are concerned about nursery capacity, with the main reasons for concern include the rising cost of childcare, the shortage of qualified staff, and the impact of the pandemic on the childcare sector. These report findings include:

  • 83% of councils are concerned that nursery closures in 2023 will be significant and undermine efficiency.
  • Fewer than half of councils are fully confident of having sufficient childcare provision for children aged two, under the current entitlements.
  • 40% of councils was a spike in nurseries closing in 2022, in comparison with the year before. The key driving forces behind some of these closures include insufficient income to meet rising costs, and workforce related issues.

The LGA is calling on the Government to provide additional funding to help councils address these challenges and ensure that the extended scheme is delivered successfully.

Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, Cllr Louise Gittins, said:

“The government’s extension of free childcare is a positive step towards helping working parents manage the high costs of sending their children to a nursery or childminder.

“However, we have serious concerns about the ability of local areas to secure nursery place, with capacity issues providing challenges to the universal rollout of the extended offer.

“Nurseries and childcare providers are already under massive pressure, grappling with severe financial and workforce challenges, which has seen staff numbers depleted and an acceleration in places closing.

“Alongside the improved funding rates, it is vital the Government’s planned recruitment drive tackles the staffing shortages and provides an opportunity for staff to progress and thrive in a fulfilling career.

“Councils will also need to be given the right levers to manage local childcare markets, given the significant rise in government-funded places local areas will see.”

The LGA's research is a timely reminder of the challenges facing the childcare sector. The extension of the 30 hours free childcare scheme is a positive step, but it is important that the Government provides additional funding to help councils address the challenges and ensure that the scheme is delivered successfully.


Image Credit: iStock

PSE August/September 2023

PSE August/September 2023

London mayor assisting with creative COVID recovery

Our  August/September 2023 edition of PSE brings you expert comment and analysis on a range of key public sector topics, from EV infrastructure to Digital transformation and reducing carbon emissions.


Learn how the role of local government in leading the data revolution or read all about the Manchesters landmark housing scheme, alongside so much more…


View all videos
#PSE365: Public Sector Events

Be A Part Of It!

PSE365: Public Sector Virtual Events

PSE has created a full calendar of events to address the most important issues that influence the delivery of public sector services. 


Over 365 days you’ll have the opportunity to hear from a range of highly motivating, informative and inspirational speakers. These speakers will equip you with knowledge and unique insight to enable you to overcome the challenges that you face.


See our full events calendar and register now! 

Public Sector Executive Podcast

Ep. 44
LGBT in the workplace
with Carl Austin Behan

In episode 44 of the Public Sector Executive Podcast, host Dan Benn was joined by former Lord Mayor of Manchester, Carl Austin-Behan OBE. Carl spoke about everything ranging from his time in the RAF, being Manchester’s first openly gay Lord Mayor, and the important work he does now, with the LGBT Foundation.

More articles...

View all