Childcare shortage woes

An apparent shortage of childcare services in the borough has been revealed
An apparent shortage of childcare services in the borough has been revealed

Hundreds of parents are struggling to cope with a shortage of childcare providers in the borough, new figures suggest.

New data has revealed a childcarer shortage in Wigan, with more than 600 parents unable to find a suitable provider.

Other news: Council ready to combat school place shortages

The figures were collated by Childcare, a nationwide online forum for parents, childcare providers and schools. The website used its internal data to compare the number of parents and childcarers who were actively searching for and advertising childcare services in Wigan.

According to the site, there are currently only 330 childcare providers actively searching for work in Wigan. However, there are 930 parents and guardians searching for childcare, resulting in a deficit of more than 600.

The demand for services was reflected recently when Wigan Council piloted a new Government-funded scheme which offered 30 hours of free childcare.

The project was designed to support the government’s drive to encourage parents to return to, or extend their working hours.

The pilot phase began in September 2016, and was so successful that it had to be expanded from 415 to 621 places to meet demand.

Indeed, the new findings by Childcare were gathered during the first half of this year, whilst the scheme was still running, and seem to back up the initiative’s apparent popularity.

Alan Lindsay, Wigan Council’s assistant director for education, said: “Due to our close working partnership with our providers and partners, we are well placed to understand the demands for childcare provision in the borough.

“This is reflective of our successful pilot last year of the national 30 hours free childcare scheme, which moves to a national full rollout this year.”

He added: “We are also looking at ways to attract more people into the childminding profession in the coming year.”