A nursery has revealed the reason it is closing at the end of the month as parents face the prospect of moving their children.

In a letter seen by the Adver, the business owner of Westgate Nursery in Highworth explains that an unclear new government funding scheme and lack of council support have contributed to the nursery being financially unviable.

The nursery, rated Outstanding by Ofsted, was put up for sale  this month and will close on  March 31.

In the letter, business owner Sandria Murkin says: “It is a matter of deep sadness that we have had to make this decision, it has been very challenging over a period of time, but this has now been compounded with the new proposed Government funding scheme not being clear and lack of information or assistance from the Borough. 

"We have made a loss from the nursery over the past two years and to put it simply, it is no longer financially viable to continue running the nursery.”

She added: “We realise that this will come as a shock and can only offer our sincere apologies.

“We simply are not financially able to maintain this high standard and this is a matter of huge regret.”

The government announced an increase in the free hours entitlement in the March 2023 budget. 

It said it would provide 30 hours a week of free childcare for all children aged nine months to three years. 

The current offer is 30 free hours for most three and four-year-olds. 

This support is due to be rolled out in stages starting in April 2024.

But some nurseries have warned that without extra funding the pledge could be catastrophic for them, forcing them to close and parents with nowhere to school their children.

Westgate Nursery parents must now find a new pre-school for their children with council support, but some parents are yet to find a new place for their child.

One parent said: "All of us parents are gutted that it's closing.

“It was also the only nursery in Highworth that provided the level of year-round morning and afterschool care we need, so it's going to be a massive loss for the town."

A Swindon Borough Council spokesperson responded: “We were disappointed to learn from parents that the operators of Westgate Nursery had made the decision to close their business.

“Changes to government funding for nurseries has made it more challenging for providers and we have been providing advice and guidance to our nurseries and Early Years providers to help them with a range of matters including finances.

“Westgate Nursery did receive this support last year but have, unfortunately, taken the decision to close.”

The Department for Education has promised extra funding to support the expansion of free childcare provision.

In 2024-25, it expects to provide over £1.7 billion to support local authorities and providers deliver the extra spaces.

The government has also announced over £400 million additional investment in 2024-25 to raise the hourly funding provided to local authorities to fund the education of children in nurseries.

It has said it will reform funding rules for local authorities to ensure that more funding is passed through to childcare providers more quickly, by making funding rules clearer.

The DfE says it has published guidance for local authorities which makes clear they should work with providers and parents to ensure that all parents have fair access to a free place.

A spokesperson said: “We are confident in the strength of our childcare market to deliver the largest ever expansion in childcare in England’s history, and we are already seeing providers looking to expand their placements across the country.”