Nurseries in Cumbria are expecting a huge change in business after the latest budget announcement.

The Chancellor’s latest budget announcement promised 30 hours of free childcare for all children aged over nine months, with support being phased in until every eligible working parent of children under five-years-old gets it by September 2025.

He also announced a change in requiring one member of staff for four children to increase to one staff member for five children.

While this was planned as an incentive to get more young parents working, what it means for nurseries could be further closures and lower profits, according to some in the industry.

As it stands, government-funded childcare is available for children aged between two and three, but the plans to broaden this coming into effect in 2026 will mean the majority of most nurseries’ clientele will be eligible for funded childcare.

Funded childcare often pays less than what nurseries charge for their base hourly rate.

At Abacus Day Nursery in Dalston, their hourly rate is £5.90, but the funded rate remains at £4.31, set to increase to £4.88 in April.

Its manager, Zoe Gordon said without an increase in funding, this could be disastrous: “If it helps the parents pay for childcare that’s wonderful, and we welcome any support for parents.

“We’re a part of the NDNA (National Day Nursery Association) and we speak to other nurseries in Carlisle.

“It’s always a hot topic how already the hours are so underfunded, and we’ve fought to increase the hourly pay.

“Calling it free childcare is deceptive, we need to provide free childcare but we’re not getting the right money for it.

“We’ve got 42 children here through funding, so we’re losing out, the rate it’s going up to in April isn’t anywhere near what’s needed.

“We’re in a childcare crisis, it’s always been an industry that’s paid poorly, and that needs to change.

“Childcare costs are expensive, but the outgoings nurseries have from wages, which are the biggest outgoings, we’re not having any support from the government to match that.

“Upping ratio in rooms isn’t something that is safe to do, in our baby room they’re already one to three.

“How can one staff member care for five babies?

“When you think, at nine months old, they’re feeding, needing their nappies changed several times throughout the day, it doesn’t look like they’re consulting nursery workers.

“We’re not just glorified babysitters, we’re providing proper childcare through the vital early years.

“Most nurseries don’t make profits at all, what comes in from parents who pay fees and the funding money, with the outgoings, we’re just about getting by, but some aren’t, and if the economy continues to go in the same direction it’s in, more nurseries will close.”

Barbara Mason, business manager at Parkfield Nursery in Carlisle, said: “I think it’s given parents a false sense of security.

“We won’t have enough places to be able to fulfil what the government wants us to do if they don’t increase the funding.

“The minimum wage is going up almost a pound which is crippling and because we have to have certain staff-to-child ratios our hands are tied with how much staff we need.

“We cannot recruit because the staff can earn more going to Aldi, I want to be able to keep all of our staff, but we’re struggling.”

READ MORE: Cumbria reacts to chancellor Jeremy Hunt's Spring Budget