Childcare might become 'available only in rich areas'
Childcare in England risks becoming the preserve of the wealthy, unless a £660m funding gap in a free childcare scheme is plugged, MPs are warning.
Severe financial strain has been placed on private and independent nurseries offering the government's flagship free 30-hours scheme, they report.
And those operating in poor areas are more likely to be threatened with closure, they say.
The government said low income families received help with childcare costs.
The national scheme offers parents of all three and four-year-olds 30 hours of free childcare a week - up from 15 hours in 2017.
But early years providers have long said the level at which these hours are funded by a government grant has meant operators have had to find other ways of making up the difference.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Childcare and Early Education heard evidence of a potential reduction in nursery places in deprived areas, while in affluent areas an increase in places looks likely.
This was highlighted by Nicole Politis, director of the Portico Nursery Group, who told the parliamentary inquiry that she had a number of nurseries in different socio-economic areas.