You are here: News Childcare shortages across the country, with the most disadvantaged children missing out

Coram Family and Childcare’s 22nd annual Childcare Survey published today reveals a sharp drop in childcare availability across England over the past year, with only half of local areas reporting sufficient childcare for children under two, a decrease of 7% on 2022, and under half (48%) reporting enough childcare for parents working full-time, a decrease of 11% on last year.

The survey also finds that the cost of childcare across Great Britain has continued to rise steadily, at a time when parents are already struggling to meet costs. A part-time place (25 hours a week) for a child under two now costs an average of £148.63 per week, an annual increase of 5.6%,.

The figures show it is the most disadvantaged children at risk of missing out, with less than one in five (18%) local authorities reporting sufficient childcare for children with disabilities, a 3% decrease on 2022. In addition, 43% of local authorities report that some or many of their local childcare providers have reduced the number of funded early education entitlement places they can provide, and there has been a 6% drop in the proportion of local areas who have enough places for the universal 15 hour early education entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds. These places are vital in narrowing the achievement gap between disadvantaged children and their peers, and there is concern they will miss out on this vital boost to their outcomes.

There are significant differences depending on where you live across England. The average weekly cost of a part-time place for a child under two is 54% higher in inner London (£199.01) than in Yorkshire and Humberside (£129.32).In outer London, just 28% of local authorities report having enough childcare for children under two, whilst the figure is 100% for the North East.

The report also highlights how the cost of living crisis is impacting childcare providers and the steps they are being forced to take that may further decrease the availability and affordability of childcare for families. 

Megan Jarvie, Head of Coram Family and Childcare, said: 

The need for reform of the childcare system is urgent. As well as eye watering bills, parents are facing widening gaps in availability of the childcare they need. As the Chancellor decides his budget, we urge him to recognise the value of investing in childcare – it is a wise investment, enabling parents to work and boosting the outcomes of young children.


Ahead of the Budget next week, Coram Family and Childcare is calling on the government to reform the childcare system to create a simpler and more efficient system that prioritises quality, guarantees a childcare place for every child, values the workforce and makes sure that parents only pay what they can afford. While this reform takes place, they also call on the Government to take the following urgent steps to improve the childcare system:

  • Review the funding rate for early education entitlements to ensure that it meets the cost of providing high quality care. Alongside any increases in funding, requirements should be put in place to make sure that it is used to increase the focus on childcare quality and to value the workforce to help alleviate recruitment and retention pressures.
  • Reform Universal Credit so it does not lock parents out of work by increasing the maximum amount of childcare costs paid under Universal Credit and guaranteeing support for upfront childcare costs.
  • Re-allocate underspend from Tax-Free Childcare to other parts of the childcare system and realign Government funding towards low-income families.
  • Extend 30 hours funded early education to parents in training or education to help parents move into work and out of poverty.
  • Improve support for children with SEND through introducing responsive funding to improve staff skills and make more childcare places accessible.
  • Double the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) to ensure it is enough to help close the widening attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.



Notes to Editors 

  • For a copy of the full report, comment and case studies, please contact Emma Lamberton, Senior Communications Manager, Coram: / 07908 827908. 
  • The Childcare Survey 2023 is based on surveys from local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, that were returned to Coram Family and Childcare between November 2022 and February 2023. A total of 191 local authorities returned data generating a response rate of 93%.
  • The first table below shows levels of childcare provision in England. The second provides a breakdown of the costs of 25 hours a week of childcare for children under three, by English region. 

Childcare sufficiency defined as ‘Yes: in all areas’ in England, for 2023 and 2022 (% of local authorities)

Price of 25 hours a week of childcare for children aged under three at nurseries and childminders

About Coram Family and Childcare

Coram Family and Childcare works to make the UK a better place for families by bringing together what we learn from our on the ground parent-led programmes and our research to campaign for solutions that parents want and need. We focus on childcare and early years to make a difference to families’ lives now and in the long term. Before August 2018, we were known as the Family and Childcare Trust. For more information, please visit:


Twitter: @CoramFamChild

Facebook: @famchildtrust


About Coram

Coram is the UK’s oldest children’s charity, supporting children to have the best possible chance in life since 1739. We work as a group of specialist organisations helping more than a million children, young people, families and professionals every year.

We support children and young people from their earliest days to independence, creating a change that lasts a lifetime. We help build their confidence; we help them to develop skills; we uphold their rights, we support practitioners in the areas of fostering and adoption and we find loving adoptive families for the most vulnerable children.

We work in over 2,000 schools supporting nearly half a million children, run London’s largest Regional Adoption Agency and provide free legal advice for thousands of children and families who need it every year.

For more information, please visit:


Twitter: @Coram

Facebook: Coramsince1739


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