Most nurseries and childcare providers in England oppose plans to increase child-to-staff ratios, it has been reported.

Children and Families Minister Will Quince said last week the Government was consulting parents and childcare providers on plans to increase ratios, raising the number of two-year-olds one staff member can look after from four to five.

The move would bring England in line with Scotland.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Quince said the proposal is aimed at “increasing flexibility and reducing the cost of childcare” for parents.

However, according to views gathered by the Early Years Alliance and reportedly seen by the BBC, there is strong opposition to the Government’s plan.

The broadcaster says 4,309 of the more than 5,800 nurseries and pre-schools that responded were strongly opposed, while just over half of the 2,146 childminders who responded were against the plans.

A petition against the proposed changes has reached almost 60,000 signatures.

In response to the petition, a Government spokesman said: “Our priority continues to be to provide safe, high quality early years provision for our youngest children.

“These changes would hand greater autonomy to (childcare providers) to exercise professional judgement in the way in which they staff their settings, according to the needs of their children, and help as many families as possible benefit from affordable, flexible, quality childcare.

“The Department for Education is working across government to support families with their childcare bills through 15 hours free childcare for eligible 2-year-olds, 30 hours free childcare for 3–4-year-olds, Tax Free Childcare and Universal Credit.

“We have spent over £3.5bn in each of the past three years on our early education entitlements and the Government is committed to continuing to look for ways to improve the cost, choice, and availability of childcare and early education.”