Manchester-based Just Childcare has bought a chain of three nurseries in Gloucester.
The addition of Chestnuts’ nurseries in Barnwood, Longlevens and Quedgeley sees the Just Childcare group grow to 65 settings and further strengthens its operations in the Bristol and Gloucestershire area where it now has 16 nurseries.
Established in 2003, Chestnuts has a joint capacity for more than 220 children. This takes Just Childcare to providing more than 4,920 child places across all its settings.
Just Childcare is a family-run group which has grown from just seven nurseries in Lancashire and Derbyshire, to more than 60 settings spread across the North West, Yorkshire and South West.
A comprehensive survey probing private, voluntary and independent nurseries’ financial sustainability has uncovered a dire picture with 85 per cent of childcare businesses in England making a loss or only breaking even, according to the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA).
The association revealed that in its survey, 95 per cent of respondents said the Government funding for three and four-year-olds doesn’t even cover their costs.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the average nursery has lost more than £26,000 over the past year due to absences or closures. And 39 per cent of nurseries which responded expect to make a loss this year. Only 15 per cent expect to make a surplus which is essential for investing in their staff and facilities to offer the best learning opportunities for their children.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “We have been surveying our nursery members over the past ten years and these are the most shocking results we have seen. Throughout the pandemic, we have highlighted challenges facing nurseries with increased costs and reduced incomes. But underfunding is a long running issue that must be tackled.”
Only three years ago these figures were reversed, with 43 per cent of nurseries expecting to make a surplus and 19 per cent making a loss. NDNA says that the precarious financial instability of the private and voluntary nursery sector in England – which delivers between 70 to 80 per cent of all funded places – has deteriorated significantly. This is largely due to Government underfunding, it says.