12 May 2022

In summary

Professor Eva Lloyd is the co-founder and director of the International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare (ICMEC) at the University of East London (UEL).

Professor Lloyd's research looks at systems and policies of early childhood education and childcare which are marketised, as they are in England. The partners which deliver these services can be full profit businesses, not for profit businesses or run by the public sector.

Professor Lloyd's research particularly focuses on strategies and policies to improve access to high quality and affordable early childcare provision for disadvantaged children.

ICMEC's research into childcare marketisation's impact and alternatives to marketisation or mitigating policies has reached a wide national and international policymaker, professional and academic audience.


    What did we explore and how?

    Professor Lloyd and ICMEC work with the early years sector providers, policymakers in local and central government, think tanks, economists, and psychologists, and write for practitioner magazines, as well as authoring chapters in books by NGOs and the Child Poverty Action Group.

    Professor Lloyd has found that the early years/nursery sector in England is being driven by very large companies which charge very high parental fees, making it very hard for parents on low incomes to pay for childcare in those settings. She looks at what happens to children in low income families, with the goal of improving access to high quality, affordable childcare settings. As well as improving children's life chances and wellbeing, this in turn allows parents to work, which increases economic wellbeing.

    Discussing her research, Professor Lloyd said the early years sector in England has come under increasing pressure. "We have seen the growth of very large nursery companies as more and more public money has come into the sector to fuel this growth.

    "These companies are being funded by private equity money. The investors then take profit out of the groups to pay dividends to shareholders. Having the profit removed from these nurseries means they carry large debts and may become financially fragile, and the workforce doesn't get their pay and conditions improved."

    What is the impact of this research?

    ICMEC's research influences UK and international policy, law and services by working with policy makers, informing public debate, and influencing the sector's operations and strategies.

    The 2014 House of Lords Select Committee on Affordable childcare used ICMEC's evidence.

    ICMEC made a significant contribution to the implementation of the 2015 Conservative Government's flagship 30 hours free childcare policy. Professor Lloyd was advisor for three evaluations in this policy's evolution.

    Professor Lloyd has advised, among others,  HM Treasury, the Department for Education, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Cabinet Office Open Innovation team, the National Audit Office, the Social Mobility Commission, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty, the Children and Families Directorate of the Scottish Government, several Labour Party Shadow Early Years ministers, Glasgow City Council and the London Borough of Islington.

    ICMEC has also worked with international governments and communities, including in The Netherlands, Singapore and Ireland.

    In 2021, the Irish cabinet approved the expert group report on the funding model for the Irish early years system; of which Professor Lloyd was a member. This report made 25 key recommendations which were all accepted by the Irish government

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