You are here: News Local authorities have supported the childcare sector through the pandemic, but remain concerned about the future of the sector

Local authorities report the wide and varied support they have provided the childcare sector and families in a new report published today, but they are still concerned about the future of the sector, including around a shortage of childcare places for older children.

Co-authored by Frontier Economics and Coram Family and Childcare, and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, this new research draws upon interviews with 122 Local Authority Early Leads to reveal how local support has been wide-ranging and has taken multiple different forms. However, the report also shows that there have been notable local variations. For example, some local authorities reported offering considerable additional financial assistance, while several areas reported no additional spending.

One positive finding is the absence of any widespread view among local authorities that the sector is on the brink of financial disaster. Most areas have not seen, and do not immediately anticipate, widespread closures that would lead to shortages of childcare – but many felt it was too early to tell what the full impact for the sector would be once financial supports wind up. Greater concerns were expressed for school-age childcare, including breakfast and after school clubs, where local authorities had seen large drops in places and worried about future shortages. School age childcare is used by twice as many children as pre-school childcare and is essential for many working parents.

All local authorities surveyed reported providing support to childcare settings on health and safety issues, including advice and assistance and access to PPE. Almost all local authorities involved in the study said they had supported parents around childcare use through guidance, advice and helping families to find childcare places.

Local authorities were mostly unable to say whether the quality of childcare had been significantly affected by the pandemic, partly because they were not making their usual visits to settings. Addressing this information gap on how the pandemic has impacted on quality is essential as research has proven that it is only high-quality childcare that helps to boost children’s outcomes and narrow the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.

Gillian Paull, Senior Analyst at Frontier Economics, said: 

The pandemic has shown how nimble and flexible local authorities can be in the ways they support local childcare provision and the role they play in ensuring families can access the care they need. But the variation in the level of this support across the country suggests that some areas benefit from stronger local political support and greater resources for supporting childcare and early years.

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

Local authorities play a crucial role in supporting families and childcare providers so that families can find the childcare they need to support children’s development and help parents to work. These findings show the great potential local authorities hold to support the childcare market through the current threats when they have the right support and funding.

Eleanor Ireland, Education Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation said: 

Local authorities have played a vital role in supporting childcare providers to deliver early education and care to pre-school children and enabling parents to work during the pandemic. However, many local authorities have concerns about possible shortages of care for school age children and this will need to be monitored in the coming months to prevent difficulties for working parents.”


Notes to Editors 

  • For a copy of the full report, comment and case studies, please contact Emma Lamberton, Senior Communications Manager, Coram at / 07908 827908.
  • These findings are part of a wider research study entitled Covid-19 and Childcare: local impacts across England, which explores the impact of the pandemic on early education and care services. This project is funded by the Nuffield Foundation and is being undertaken by a team of researchers from the Centre for Evidence and Implementation, the University of East London, UCL and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • These findings are based on semi-structured telephone interviews undertaken with 122 Local Authority Early Years Leads in England between February and April 2021, an 82% response rate.

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:

  • Website:
  • Twitter: @CoramFamChild
  • Facebook: @famchildtrust

About Frontier Economics

Frontier is one of the largest economics consultancies in Europe and regularly works with public and private sector clients on issues related to childcare and education. For more information, please contact or call +44 (0) 20 7031 7000 or visit the website

About Nuffield Foundation

The Nuffield Foundation is an independent charitable trust with a mission to advance social well-being. It funds research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare, and Justice. It also funds student programmes that provide opportunities for young people to develop skills in quantitative and scientific methods. The Nuffield Foundation is the founder and co-funder of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and the Ada Lovelace Institute. The Foundation has funded this project, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the Foundation. Visit

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:

  • Website:
  • Twitter: @Coram
  • Facebook: Coramsince1739
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