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Childcare sufficiency assessment - 2021 - 2022

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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 July 2021, 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 May and June 2021


  • Five providers were rated by Ofsted as inadequate or requiring improvement as at December 2020.  All other providers in the town were rated good or outstanding, or had not been inspected.

Views of Parents and Carers 


§  A survey of parents was undertaken during May 2021, and the overall findings were favourable.


Financial sustainability

  • Some providers have expressed concerns that the funded 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 about funding rates took place with providers during January 2021.
  • 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. A small number of childminders have left the market but these have been replaced by new entrants.

Identified gaps

  • There are limited choices available for atypical hours of childcare (outside 8am to 6pm on weekdays). The Early Years funding team provide brokerage support to parents who might encounter difficulty in finding a suitable place.

Our Plans and Actions for 2021 - 2022

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 8262 children under the age of five living in Blackpool. These children may require early years childcare. Assuming approximately 50% of two year olds require childcare and all three and four year olds require childcare this would mean approximately 4200 early years children need childcare.

Blackpool Population of children that may need childcare
 Age 0 Age 1 Age 2 Age 3 Age 4Total
1597 1601 1703 1650 1711 8262

In total there are 16445 children aged 5-14 living in Blackpool. These children may require childcare before and after school, and/or during the school holidays.

School age population
 Age 5 Age 6 Age 7 Age 8 Age 9 Age 10 Age 11 Age 12 Age 13 Age 14 Total
 1696  1768  1783  1595  1617  1629  1636  1562  1509  1650  16445

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are entitled to support with childcare up to the age of 18 (age 14 for children who do not have a special need or disability).

The Early Years Advisory team are available to support settings that require advice with supporting children with SEND.

The number of children with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan in Blackpool is:

Blackpool population of children and young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan
 Age 0 - 4Age 5 - 10  Age 11 - 15 Age 16 - 19Total
69  394 385 275 1123

As part of our review we asked providers to rate their confidence at providing support for children with SEND

provider confidence with send
 Very confident Fairly confidentSlightly confidet Not confident No response 
 43  28  4  0  35


Changes to the population 

The Early Years (0-4 years) population is reducing slightly by approximately 100 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 

In total there are 110 childcare providers in Blackpool, offering a maximum of 2991 early years childcare places:

Number of Early Years providers and places
Type of provisionNumber of
Number of
Registered places
Number of full time
available places
Childminders  51 312 39 8%
Maintained and school nursery 18 704 116 14%
Private, voluntary and independent nurseries  41 1975 546 25%
Overall  110 2991 701 23.4%
  • The data provided was correct to the best of our knowledge at July 2021
  • Some childminder places may also be available for older children.
  • Total number of full time places available, a place may sometimes be shared by more than one child
  • The vacancy ratio is the percentage of available places available throughout the week on a full day basis 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. 

Children may attend childcare full time or part time. This table records children that are attending full time or as many hours as the setting is open. In some cases two or more children attending part time may use one full time equivalent place. For example one child may attend in the morning and another child may attend in the afternoon. 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 inform our sufficiency assessment. Most providers give us this information.  

Early Years providers are also required to provide us with weekly attendance information to help inform local and national planning during Covid. In general vacancy rates are higher in the autumn when children move into school. 

The number of providers offering school age support has remained constant:

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 of funded early education

The take up of children attending Early Education in Blackpool is broadly similar to overall England figures. The proportion of children benefiting from Early Education compared to the population taking up their funded place (for at least some of the available hours) in Blackpool is:

Percentage of population accessing Early Education
 AgeAge 2 yearsAge 3 & 4 years
Blackpool 2019 76% 93%
England 2019 68% 69%
Blackpool 2020 71% 89%
England 2020 69% 93%

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 charged in Blackpool are general lower than national averages. PVI’s and schools have increased their prices since the last assessment. Some childminders have reduced their prices. Some providers charge extra for meals.

Childcare average hourly prices
 Type of provisionUnder 2 years2 year olds3 and 4 year olds
Childminders £4.11 £4.11 £4.12
Maintained and school nurseries £4.33 £4.33 £3.93
Private, voluntary and independent nurseries  £5.48 £5.46 £5.40
Overall £4.68 £4.71 £4.60

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.  The ratings have remained reasonably constant since our last assessment.

Providers rated Good or Outstanding
 Type of provisionTotal number
of Providers
Percentage Good
or Outstanding
 Childminders 51  96%
 Maintained and school nursery 18  
 Private, voluntary and independent nurseries 41  94%

Parents views 

A parent/carer survey was undertaken during June 2021.

Parents were asked to rate the quality of the childcare they received:

Parents were asked to rate the quality of their childcare
 Age group Outstanding Good Satisfactory Poor Very poor Total responses
 Below school age  124 (62%)  60 (30%)  15 (7.5%)  1 (1%)  0  202
 School age  0  24 (57%)  15 (36%)  3 (7%)  0  42
 Overall  124 (51%)  84 (35%)  30 (12%)  4 (1%)  0  244

Parents were asked to rate the value for money for the fees they paid for non funded childcare they received.
For below school age children  117 respondents (59%) told us they did not purchase additional hours.

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  135 (68%)  56 (28%)  4 (2%)  195
 School age  24 (60%)  13 (33%)  3 (7%)  40
 Overall  159 (30%)  69 (64%)  7 (11%)  235

 Parents were asked how easy it had been to find suiitable childcare:

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%) 20 (15%)   5 (4%)  129

 Parents were asked how they felt providers had handled issues associated with COVID and lockdowns:

how providers have handled covid issues
 Age Handled issues well Handled issues satisfactorily Handled issues poorly Total responses
 Below school age  135 (68%)  56 (28%)  4 (2%)  195
 School age  24 (60%)  13 (33%)  3 (7%)  40
 Overall  159 (30%)  69 (64%)  7 (11%)  235

Parents were asked how they choose their childcare:

How do parents choose their childcare
 Type Total responses
 Searched online  42 (21%)
 Saw advertising  2 (1%)
 Recommendation  64 (32%)
 Nearby location  30 (30%)
 Siblings attend same location  31 (15%)


Market sustainability

In accordance with Government guidelines those providers that suffered a shortfall in their grant income when comparing Autumn term 2020 with Autumn term 2019 were provided with top up payments. Private nurseries have also been able to apply for financial support in accordance with criteria for the schemes available. Providers have also continued to receive their normal Grant payments during any lock down periods. Blackpool Council’s Business Development team are also available to give general guidance.

As part of our assessment we asked Providers for their views on their financial sustainability. Individual discussions have taken place with providers where appropriate.


providers views on sustainability
 How do you regard your current financial sustainabilityTotal responses 
Good  20 (18%)
Satisactory  30 (27%)
Concerning 14 (12%)
Critical 2 (2%)
Prefer not to say 44 (40%)


Area Level Breakdown 

Ratio of available places by area
 Area Childminders MaintainedPrivate nurseries  Total availability ratio
Blackpool North  9%  9%  18%  15%
Blackpool South  33%  26%  32%  31%
Blackpool Central  6%  21%  30%  14%
Blackpool total  13% 16%  27%  23%

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 place ratio has remained reasonably similar since the last assessment. There are less vacancies in the South than previously reported. It is considered overall there are sufficient places.

The overall availability ratio is 23%, this was 21% at the last assessment 


We have used the following data to compile this assessment:

  • Number 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 by Ofsted, who regulate early years provision in schools and childcare provision. This has been supplemented with local knowledge.
  • Vacancy rates: Based on provider surveys undertaken during May and June 2021
  • Funded early education: data on take up of funded early education entitlements is based on the Early Years and Schools Censuses, which are taken every January and published by the Department of Education in the statistical collection. Data on entitlement to a funded early education place for 2 year olds is provided by the Department for Work and Pensions.
  • Price of Childcare: Based on information collected from provider surveys undertaken during May and June 2021
  • Quality of childcare: data on childcare quality is provided by Ofsted Data

This assessment was published July 2021

Further information

Early Years Funding Team

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


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