I am concerned and disappointed over the Government withdrawing crucial financial support that was initially promised to childcare providers. The serious challenges facing nurseries, childminders and other early years settings are unfortunately being overlooked.
As you may know, guidance published by the Government in March 2020 set out that childcare providers could access the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme whilst continuing to be paid the early entitlements funding via local authorities. This provided a lifeline for providers, many of which have already planned on this basis and furloughed staff.
However, revised guidance published on 17 April 2020 states: “organisations which continue to receive government funding should not furlough staff whose salaries that funding could typically be considered to fund, and therefore will not need to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”
As the Early Years Alliance has said, this new guidance essentially means that “the more income a provider gets through government funding, the less support they will be able to get for staff wages through the Job Retention Scheme”. This will severely restrict the support that childcare providers can access, at a time when they are already struggling after a decade of under-funding.
Withdrawing funding that was initially promised will be damaging for many childcare businesses. Thousands of childcare workers could sadly lose their jobs and more nurseries will close, either temporarily or permanently.
Additionally, many key workers could now be left without childcare, depriving our NHS and other vital services of staff at a critical time. Unless urgent action is taken to save early years providers, other parents could soon find themselves in a similar position.
Early years providers play such an important role in the education of our children. A proper plan is needed to help them stay open and survive during the ongoing situation with coronavirus.
This is why I have written to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and urged him to rethink this U-turn and to step in to save this vital sector.
I can assure you that I will continue to urge the Government to rethink this decision and to step in to save this vital sector urgently.