Childcare sufficiency assessment

On this page

Little children on floor playing with large numbered jigsaw pieces.Overall childcare sufficiency assessment and summary
Our Plans and Actions for 2020
Demand for childcare
Supply of childcare
Funded Early Education
Prices for childcare
Quality of childcare
Parents views
Area level breakdown
Further information 

Overall childcare sufficiency assessment and summary

Blackpool Council is required by law to "report annually to elected members on how they are meeting their duty to secure sufficient childcare, and make this report available and accessible to parents." We have published this latest assessment dated January 2020, in order to meet this duty.

In this report, we have made an assessment of sufficiency using data about the need for childcare and the amount of childcare available. We have also included feedback from local parents about how easy or difficult it has been for them to find suitable childcare.

We use this information about childcare sufficiency to plan our work supporting the local childcare economy.

Overall Childcare sufficiency in Blackpool:


  • Our data shows that Blackpool has sufficient places for funded two, three and four year olds. Data was collected during November and December 2019.


  • Five providers were rated by Ofsted as inadequate or requiring improvement at August 2019. All other providers in the town were rated good or outstanding.

Views of Parents and Carers 

  • A survey of Parents was undertaken during November 2019, and the overall findings were favourable. 

Financial sustainability

  • Some providers have expressed concerns that the hourly rate is insufficient. Funding is decided by the Department for Education. The Department for Education has announced increases in funding for the financial year 2020/21. Blackpool Council is also reducing its central expenditure thereby allowing further funding to be passed through to providers. Consultation took place with providers during January 2020.
  • Blackpool Council's Business Development team also provides advice on marketing and business planning to providers and has a range of training available.

The overall childcare market 

  • The provider market has remained reasonably static over the previous year. There has been a decline in the number of new Childminders entering the market although this has not had a significant impact on capacity.

Identified gaps

  • Overall there are less vacant places in the north of the town. Sometimes parents may need to travel further to find a place. The Early Years team provide support where a parent may have difficulty in finding a place. 
  • There are limited choices available for atypical hours childcare (outside 8am to 6pm on weekdays). The Early Years funding team can provide brokerage support to parents who might encounter difficulty in finding a suitable place.

Our Plans and Actions for 2020 - 2021

To ensure that there are Sufficient Childcare Places
 We want... Why... How...
  • To ensure that there are sufficient easily accessible childcare places available across Blackpool
  • To help children develop social and everyday skills and benefit from early education 
  • To enable parents to take up employment opportunities
  • Obtain termly vacancy data from providers and monitor fluctuations and any problem areas
  • Assist parents having difficulty finding suitable provision through telephone support and the FYI directory website
  • To maintain and develop our relationships with our Early Years Providers 
  • So that we can support and maintain a professional and well trained Early Years workforce
  • By providing support visits to providers to ensure that funding is being used and allocated appropriately
  • By providing provider information events
  • Provider email information bulletins


To ensure that Childcare provided is good quality
We want... Why... How...
  • To ensure that the views of parents and carers are considered and that there is a mechanism in place to provided ongoing feedback
  • So that childcare provides positive outcomes and impacts on the lives of children and their families
  • Undertaking an annual parental survey and sharing the results with the local provider market so that potential problem areas can be identified and areas of good practice shared
  • To ensure that there is access for children with additional needs in all settings
  • So that parents have local access to fully inclusive childcare where practical to do so
  • Ensure that providers are available of the support available through the SEND Inclusion Fund and the Disability Access Fund
  • The Inclusion Team will continue to provide support and guidance to providers


To ensure that Childcare funding is accurate and timely
 We want... Why... How...
  • To ensure that funding is accurate and timely
  • To ensure as reasonably possible that the local childcare market is financially secure and viable
  • So that there is a sufficient range of Early Years providers offering a range of choices to parents      
  • So that we have accurate business data and intelligence to inform our future plans
  • To meet our statutory obligations
  • Reviewing our internal processes and systems to ensure we make the best use of technology
  • To continue to monitor our cental expenditure and achieve savings where possible
  • To continue to work with the Early Years Provider Strategic Group to ensure that there is a collaborative and partnership approach
  • To ensure that there is adequate information to providers about the range of grant funding, supplements and support available
  • So that providers can make the best and most appropriate use of funding to ensure sustainability and provide a quality service
  • Improving the quality of advice and information available to providers online
  • Providing easily accessible policies and documentation


To ensure that parents are accessing childcare
 We want...Why... How...
  • To ensure that parents take up their entitlement to free childcare
  • So that childcare provides positive outcomes and impact on the lives of children and their families
  • Notifying parents of two year old children of their potential eligibility to free childcare
  • Provide support to help parents find a suitable childcare place
  • Provide publicity and marketing of childcare to parents by attending events and providing printed information at key locations, libraries, GP surgeries etc
  • Continuing to promote the FYI directory website and the Blackpool Local Offer online directories 

Demand for childcare

Population of children 

In total there are 8365 children in Blackpool under the age of five living in Blackpool who may need childcare. School age children may also require childcare before or after school, and/or during school holidays.

Blackpool Population of children that may need childcare
 Age 0 Age 1 Age 2 Age 3 Age 4Age 5 -11Age 12 - 14
 1774  1709  1709  1808  1563 11537 4604

Children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are also entitled to support with childcare up to the age of 18 (age 14 for children who do not have a special need or disability).

Blackpool population of children and young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan
 Age 0 - 4Age 5 - 10  Age 11 - 15 Age 16 - 19
 52  271  332  165

Changes to the population 

The Early Years (0-4 years) population is reducing slightly by approximately 75 children overall per year due to a small reduction in the birth rate. This trend is predicted to continue. The percentage of live births in the town (6.1% of the total population) is the same as the average for England.

Supply of childcare 

Number of Early Years providers and places
Type of provisionNumber of
Number of
Registered places
Number of full time
available places
Childminders  54  372  30  8%
Maintained and school nursery  18  602  88  14%
Private, voluntary and independent nurseries  43  1936  494  25%
Overall  115  2910  612  21%
  • The data provided was correct to the best of our knowledge at November 2019
  • Some childminder places may also be available to older children
  • Full time places are 30 hours per week and sometimes maybe shared by more than one child, eg one child may attend a place in the morning and a different child may attend in the afternoon
  • The vacancy ratio is the percentage of available places compared to the number of registered places compared to the number of registered places
  • For private, voluntary and independent nurseries and childminders the number of registered places represents the maximum number of children who can be on the premises at any given time. In practice many providers choose to operate below their number of registered places

Vacancy rates are a snapshot and often change. In some cases providers may have a place that is only available for a particular age group or for a particular part time arrangement. We ask providers to report vacancies to us so that we can help promote them and help parents find a suitable place. We also ask for this information to help with our sufficiency assessment. Some providers choose not to provide this information. In general vacancy rates are higher in the autumn when children move into school.  

Providers offering school age support
 Breakfast clubs After school clubs Holiday clubs
 26  34  16

Some childminders also offer support to school age children. Tracking of childcare for school age children is difficult because not all of this type of provision is registered with Ofsted. It is possible to have under counted this provision. Parents may also use provision that is not considered child care, for example sports or arts clubs after school or in the holidays.

Funded Early Education

Some children are entitled to free childcare funded by the Government. These entitlements are for 38 weeks per year.

  • All children aged 3 and 4 are entitled to 15 hours per week (570 hours) until they start reception class in school
  • Children aged 3 and 4 where both parents are working, or from lone parent families where that parent is working, are entitled to 30 hours per week for 38 weeks (1140 hours) until they start reception class in school
  • Children aged 2 whose families receive certain benefits (including low income families in receipt of in-work benefits), or those who will meet additional non-economic criteria are entitled to 15 hours per week for 38 weeks.

Parents do not have to use all the hours of their funded entitlement. They may choose to split their hours between two providers. With the agreement of the provider parents may also spread hours across the year, for example rather than taking 15 hours for 38 weeks a year they could take 11 hours for 52 weeks a year instead (570 hours maximum).

Take up percentages

The proportion of children benefiting from Early Education compared to the population is as follows:

Percentage of population accessing Early Education
 AgeBlackpool %
of children
England %
of children
 Age 2 years  76%  68%
 Age 3 and 4 years  95%  94%

A breakdown of availability by area is available.

Prices for childcare

For Early Years childcare outside of funded entitlements we report on the average childcare prices per hour advised to us by settings. There maybe variations on price based on the number of hours a family uses, with reductions for longer hours or reductions for family groups. There may also be additional charges for extra services such as lunch which are not included in the prices. Providers decide their own charges.

Prices have remained reasonably constant since our previous assessment. Prices charged in Blackpool are generally lower than national averages. Some providers charge extra for meals and snacks.

Childcare average hourly prices
 Type of provisionUnder 2 years2 year olds3 and 4 year olds
Childminders  £4.17  £4.25  £4.15
Maintained and school nurseries  £4.00  £3.71  £3.74
Private, voluntary and independent nurseries  £4.56  £4.45  £4.26
Overall  £4.35  £4.29  £4.14

Childcare for school age children tends to be more expensive than early years children because this takes place during the evenings or weekends.

Quality of Childcare

All childcare providers must register with and be inspected by Ofsted, who will give them an overall grade for the quality of their provision. Childminders and private and voluntary providers are included on the Early Years register and schools and stand alone maintained nursery schools are included on the Schools register. The grades for both registers are equivalent. Schools with nurseries have an overall inspection grade for the whole school.

Schools and Early Years providers have four possible Ofsted grades:

  • Outstanding
  • Good
  • Requires improvement
  • Inadequate

Some providers are awaiting their first full inspection. These have been excluded from the percentage calculation. 

Providers rated Good or Outstanding
 Type of provisionTotal number
of Providers
Percentage Good
or Outstanding
 Childminders  58  98%
 Maintained and school nursery  18  90%
 Private, voluntary and independent nurseries  44  95%

Parents views 

A parent/carer survey was undertaken during October and November 2019. The overall findings were favourable. This will be used as a benchmark for future surveys.

Parents were asked to rate the quality of their childcare
 Age group Very good Good Satisfactory Poor Very poor Total responses
 Below school age 67 (67%) 25 (25%) 7 (7%) 1 (1%) 0 (0%)  100
 School age 11 (38%) 11 (38%) 6 (20%) 1 (4%) 0 (0%)  29
 Overall 78 (60%) 36 (26%) 13 (9%) 2 (1%) 0 (0%)  129


Parents were asked to rate the value for money paid in respect of fees paid for non funded childcare hours
 Age group Good value Satisfactory value Poor valueTotal responses 
 Below school age  14 (36%)  26 (68%)  2 (5%)  42
 School age  6 (20%)  17 (58%)  6 (20%)  29
 Overall  20  (30%)  43 (64%)   8 (11%)  71


Parents were asked how easy it it been to find suitable childcare
 Age group Very easy Easy Neither easy or difficult DifficultVery difficult Total responses 
 Below school age  36 (36%)  28 (28%)  22 (22%)  12 (12%)  2 (2%)  100
 School age  7 (24%)  4 (13%)  7 (24%)  8 (27%)  3 (10%)  29
 Overall  43 (33%)  32 (25%) 29 (22%) 29 (22%)  5 (4%) 129


Area Level Breakdown

Number of Providers
 Area Childminders Maintained Private nurseries Total
Blackpool North  21  8  16 45
Blackpool South  10  3  12 25
Blackpool Central  23  7  15 45
Blackpool total  54  18  43 115


Ratio of available places by area
 Area Childminders MaintainedPrivate nurseries  Total availability ratio
Blackpool North  7%  19%  11%  13%
Blackpool South  20%  8%  34%  30%
Blackpool Central  5%  9%  30%  22%
Blackpool total  8%  14%  25%  21%

The ratio of available places is the total number of available places that are available on a full day basis, morning and afternoon sessions throughout Monday - Friday.
For example a provider with 10 registered places that had 5 places available for each full day throughout the week would be recorded as 50% availability. There might be additional places for specific days of the week or for morning and afternoon sessions only, but this would not count towards the overall calculation.

The overall availability ratio is 21%.


We have used the following data to compile this assessment:

  • Population of children based on Nomis Labour Market datasets
  • Children with EHC plans based on SEN2 Local Authority tables
  • Supply of childcare: based on data provided to us by Ofsted, who regulate early years provision in schools and childcare provision. We have supplemented this with local knowledge.
  • Vacancy rates: Based on providers surveys undertaken during August and November 2019
  • Funded Early Education: data on take up of funded early education entitlements is based on the Early Years and School Censuses, which are undertaken every January and published by the Department for Education in the statistical collection. Data on funded early education places for two year olds is provided by the Department for Work and Pensions.
  • Prices of childcare: Based on information collected from provider surveys undertaken during August and November 2019
  • Quality of childcare: data on childcare quality is provided by Ofsted
  • Data from providers: Based on provider surveys undertaken during August and November 2019
  • Comments from parents: Based on a survey undertaken during November 2019

This assessment was published January 2020

Further information

Early Years Funding Team

PO Box 4, Blackpool, FY1 1NA
Telephone 01253 477854


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