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NEWS: DfE publishes new stats on childcare and early years providers in England

The Department for Education has published its 2019 survey of childcare and early years providers. A summary of the key findings are outlined below.

Main survey


  • There were 363,400 staff working in the childcare and early years sector in Spring 2018 (down from 430,500 in 2018).
  • 15% of childminders reported having at least one assistant (which is an increase from 2018 where there were 12%).


  • Survey estimates suggest that the overall number of providers has fallen from 81,500 in 2018 to 72,000 in 2019.
  • The number of group-based providers has increased from 23,600 to 24,000; the number of school-based providers fell from 16,900 to 9,100 ; and the number of childminders fell from 40,900 to 39,400.


  • There were estimated to be 1,630,200 childcare places across all providers in 2018 which has increased to 1,655,800 in 2019. (Now counted excluding Reception provision and before and after school places).
  • 66% of all registered childcare and early years places were in group based settings and 19.8% were in schools (including maintained nurseries) and 14.5% were with childminders.

Spare capacity

  • The majority of providers had at least some spare capacity.
  • Just under half, 48% of childminders reported having spare capacity.
  • School-based nurseries were less likely to have spare capacity than group-based providers and childminders.


  • 27% of staff working in group based settings who held a Level 3 also held the Early Years Educator Qualification, this was found to be 34% in school based settings and 37% for childminders.


  • Almost three-quarters (73%) of reported costs incurred by group-based providers and 81% of those incurred by school-based nurseries comprised of staff costs including wages, National Insurance payments and pension contributions.
  • The biggest source of recorded costs for childminders was paying for meals, snacks and refreshments for the children they looked after. On average, these food costs comprised over a third (41%) of the costs incurred by childminders.

30 hours

  • 90% of group-based providers, 70% of school-based nurseries as well as 80% of childminders were offering 30 hours.

Tax-Free Childcare

  • 84% of group-based providers, 46% of school-based nurseries and 72% of childminders had signed up to receive Tax-Free Childcare payments.


  • School-based nurseries were most likely to have children with SEND in their provision (80%) relative to group-based providers (74%) and childminders (17%).


  • Group providers (e.g. PVI nurseries and pre-schools) were more likely than school nursery providers and childminders to have increased their fees over the previous 12 months.
  • 53% of group providers had increased fees for at least one of the age groups compared to 24% of school nursery providers and 23% of childminders.

Liz Bayram PACEY Chief Executive comments:

"While it is positive for parents that more and more providers are offering 30 hour funded places, we know this is being done at a loss for most childcare settings and that their long term sustainability is under threat. Many childminders, nurseries and pre-schools feel compelled to offer families these funded places or risk them seeking childcare elsewhere. If low funding rates, delayed payments and other red tape continue, we risk more providers closing and more struggling to find the funds they need to provide the staff training and support that underpins high quality care for our youngest children.

“Which ever party wins the next election, they must ensure that there is long term sustainable funding for all providers delivering early education entitlements; funding that covers the actual cost of delivery year on year and ensures that monthly payment of fees, so that providers aren’t left subsidising this vital childcare support for families.“