Nurseries in the UK are Closing and it’s a HUGE Problem

Nurseries in the UK are Closing

The United Kingdom has long been lauded for its robust childcare system, but recent developments have cast a shadow over the sector’s future.

A wave of closures among nurseries and early years providers is causing widespread concern. The effects of these closures ripple outwards, leaving parents like me and you in a bind, and potentially impacting children’s development and future learning.

This article delves into the reasons behind the closures, the impact on parents and children, and the potential long-term consequences if this trend continues.

The Current State of Childcare in the UK

Childcare services in the UK are witnessing an alarming decline, with thousands of nurseries and early years providers closing their doors.

Data from the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) indicates that the number of childcare providers in England fell by around 4,000 between March 2021 and March 2022, the largest drop since 2016.

This translates to a significant reduction in available childcare places, leaving parents struggling to find suitable alternatives.

The Impact on Parents

Parent Struggling with Childcare

Parents are finding themselves in an increasingly difficult position, and I have first hand experience of this trying to find wrap around care for my own kids.

With fewer childcare options available, many are having to make significant changes to their routines, including reducing their work hours or even leaving their jobs altogether.

This is particularly the case for parents who cannot afford the rising costs of private childcare services.

In some areas, full-time childcare fees can exceed £2,000 per month, a cost that is simply unmanageable for many families.

A parent from Uxbridge, northwest London, was quoted saying:

As a working parent, the lack of available childcare has left me in a real mess. I’ve had to reduce my hours at work, which has affected our family income. It’s a difficult and stressful situation.

A friend of mine has had to make similar difficult choices, resulting in him often having to work in the evenings, which is not a healthy long term solution.

The Flow-On Effects for Children

The closure of nurseries and early years providers also has a direct impact on children.

These facilities play a crucial role in children’s early development, providing a structured environment where they can learn, socialise, and develop essential skills.

What’s more, childcare providers might be tempted to take on more children than they can handle, or off the record providers could start opening to handle the overspill, which would not be safe.

The loss of these services can therefore have a significant impact on a child’s preparedness for school and their future learning outcomes.

The Underlying Causes

There are several factors contributing to the wave of closures in the childcare sector. Chief among these are chronic underfunding and a related staffing crisis.

Many providers are operating at a loss, unable to cover their costs with the funding provided by the government. This has led to a struggle to recruit and retain qualified staff, exacerbating the problem.

Kay Facts:

  • Childcare providers in England have seen a drop of about 4,000 between March 2021 and March 2022.
  • The cost of full-time childcare can exceed £2,000 per month in some areas.
  • Around a quarter of parents face waiting lists of at least 10 months to enrol their children in nursery.

The Government’s Role

Children at Nursery

Critics argue that the government’s underfunding of the childcare sector is a significant factor behind the closures.

For many years, providers have been calling for increased funding to help cover their costs. However, these calls have largely gone unheeded.

The government’s commitment to expand free childcare hours for under-fives is seen by some as exacerbating the problem, putting further pressure on an already overburdened sector.

The Future of Childcare in the UK

If the current trend continues, the future of childcare in the UK looks bleak.

With fewer providers and a lack of available places, parents will face increasing challenges in finding suitable childcare. This could have significant social and economic consequences, impacting parents’ ability to work and children’s early development.

There is a clear need for action to address the issues facing the childcare sector. This includes increasing funding to help providers cover their costs, implementing strategies to attract and retain qualified staff, and exploring other models of childcare provision.


The crisis in the UK’s childcare sector is a pressing issue that requires urgent attention.

Without suitable and affordable childcare, parents are left in a difficult position and children’s early development is at risk.

It is crucial that the government and other stakeholders work together to find solutions to ensure the sustainability of this vital sector.

Only then can we ensure that all children in the UK have access to the high-quality early education and care they deserve.