Agenda item

Childcare Sufficiency Assessment

A report providing information on the 2022/23 Childcare Sufficiency Assessment (CSA).


The Executive Director of Children’s Services, Education, Early Help and Social Care, Brighter Futures for Children, submitted a report on the main findings of the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment (CSA) for 2022/23.  The annual report provided information for parents, childcare providers and Brighter Futures for Children on childcare needs, the local childcare market and future school places demand.

The main findings included the following:

·         96% of providers had been judged as good or outstanding by Ofsted.

·         The annual Parents Survey 2022 had shown that 87% of parents/carers were satisfied with their choice of childcare provision.

·         There were sufficient childcare places for all 0–4-year-olds.

·         Providers reported immediate vacancies which was an indicator that parents were waiting for their preferred provision.

·         93% of parents/carers were able to find the type of childcare they wanted in their local area.

·         Early years providers reported that places were most influenced by the physical space available, followed by qualified staff vacancies and meeting needs of existing children.

·         Funding rates were identified as the greatest threat to the sustainability of early years providers followed by rising energy costs.

·         Rising food costs were identified as the greatest threat to the sustainability of out of school providers followed by a drop in parental demand.

·         RBC’s 5-year housing plan had identified the town centre and Whitley ward as areas to monitor regarding future growth. This could lead to an increase in the number of families over the next few years in line with housing development.

·         Parent/carers who reported that their childcare requirements had changed as an impact of the Covid pandemic were in the minority this year at 20%, a reduction from 31% last year.

·         50% of parent/carer responses had indicated that they were satisfied with current fees, the remaining 50% were not satisfied. In this financial year 57% of early years providers and 41% of out of school providers reported that they had set a fee increase.

It was noted that childcare providers had reported issues with staff shortages and problems with recruiting to the sector.  Full details regarding the recent government announcement were yet to be released, however, childcare providers had raised concern regarding the rates that would be paid by the government for free childcare places in comparison to staff costs and if the funding would be able to address this issue. Also, that whilst the survey indicated that most families could find childcare in their local area this was not always the case.

It was noted that Reading was an area of high cost, and the key issue was staffing shortages in the sector which could become an area of concern and priority for the future. The Early Years’ Service provides a range of supports to the sector to assist providers with their business planning as well as priority areas for service development, including staff development. Also, it was noted that good early year’s childcare provision was important in the development of children.

In response to a query, it was reported that the Council offered support for recruitment into the childcare sector with information in schools on career pathways into the sector.  Regarding the low take up of Tax-Free Childcare schemes, the Council would be providing leaflets to childcare providers for parents and by providing information through the Reading Family Information Service.

Concern was raised regarding the government’s proposed change in the ratio of adult carers to the number of children and how childcare sufficiency would be measured. Some providers had already expressed concern regarding these new ratios and that they would not be applying them in their own units as they did not feel they best met the needs of the children.  The details on how childcare sufficiency would be affected and if funding would be based on the new ratios had not yet been determined.

It was suggested that details regarding the financial cost of working, in comparison to the cost of childcare and affordability, be included in future reports.

Resolved –    That the Reading Childcare Sufficiency Assessment 2022-23 be noted and endorsed.

Supporting documents: