Commenting on a report by the Early Years Alliance, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“The NEU has vocally campaigned for increased funding for Maintained Nurseries and the Early Years sector in recent years. The fight against disadvantage and improving social mobility begins with early years, and the role of free and universal nursery education is an essential social investment. It provides crucial financial support to parents looking to return to the workplace, while dealing with the pressures of raising a family. 

"The pandemic has increased the financial pressure the sector was under, with many settings reducing staff to stay afloat, many closing, and many more at risk of shutting their doors for good. If availability pf places and quality provision are to be maintained, then it is essential that existing services are protected and the trend towards redundancies reversed. 

"It is shameful that the Government continues to let down the Early Years sector. The Government’s current policies and lack of action are clearly a threat to the sector and the life chances of the children they educate. 

"The NEU will continue to campaign and work with stakeholders to demand that the Government owns up to its past mistakes and during the next spending cycle acts to properly fund the sector for the foreseeable future.”