Cash-strapped nurseries will employer younger, cheaper staff to balance the books


A survey by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has found 58% of nurseries admit they will be forced employ younger, less experienced, staff in order to balance their books when the National Living Wage is introduced next year.

The new £7.20 living wage only applies to employees over the age of 25, and the results of the survey proves what many feared when the wage was first announced – that to avoid higher wage bills, employers will simply hire younger, cheaper staff.

The NDNA predicts the wage bills of nurseries will increase by an average of 10% next year, and by 35% by 2020 – as they are forced to meet government goals to increase the living wage in successive years to reach £9 by the end of the decade.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief executive of NDNA, said: “Our survey of 10,000 nursery employees is the first evidence of the enormous impact the new National Living Wage will have on nurseries.'

She said: “Nurseries want to reward their staff properly, but the combination of mandatory inflation-busting rises and chronically inadequate funding is a real threat to the sustainability and quality of provision of private, voluntary and independent nurseries.”

The research finds 62% of current nursery employees are paid below the National Living Wage, 37% of whom will be over 25 and entitled to this wage from next April. Half of nurseries said they would recruit younger staff, or employ fewer supernumerary staff – and the NDNA argues both options will impact the quality of childcare.

Tanuku said: “Changing the ratios or employing more younger, less qualified staff, is not the answer as this will affect quality, which is not negotiable.' She added: 'Childcare has to be of high quality for it to be effective. We need action on this now. There are just eight months to go until the National Living Wage becomes mandatory.”