Call for urgent investment in childcare

A range of organisations have called on the Government to address the funding crisis facing many nurseries.

Small child playing with brightly coloured bricks on the floor in a childcare setting


A group of organisations representing businesses, parents, children, childcare providers and workers have called on the Treasury to take urgent action to prevent nurseries and childminders from closing due to coronavirus.

The group, led by the Fawcett Society, has come together ahead of the autumn Comprehensive Spending Review, to call for increased investment in childcare because of its central role in enabling parents to work. TUC research has found that one in four (41%) of working mothers with young children can’t get, or are unsure they will get, enough childcare to cover their working hours.

The organisations, ranging from the TUC to the Federation of Small Businesses, and the Fatherhood Institute to Mumsnet, say that the childcare sector was already facing financial problems before the coronavirus, but concern is increasing, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies recently said it believes up to a quarter of settings have run a significant deficit during lockdown, threatening their long-term future. Over a third of settings in the most deprived parts of the country have said they are unlikely to survive for a year.

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said: “Maternal employment in the UK is on a precipice. All the signals are clear that we risk rolling back a decade of growth, and it is unequal childcare responsibilities that are the cause.

“The Chancellor has rightly invested public funds at unprecedented levels to save jobs. For a
comparatively affordable price, he has the opportunity to step in and save the childcare
sector so that capacity is there when parents are able to get back to work.”

British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Co-Executive Director Claire Walker said: “Like many sectors, childcare has been hit hard by the  coronavirus pandemic. But its reduced availability and lack of support has meant working parents are now struggling to manage the competing demands of work and family life.

“With coronavirus cases beginning to rise again, it is crucial that childcare is properly supported to enable parents to access the workforce and help our economic recovery.”

The call for action comes as a new analysis by Frontier Economics for the Fawcett Society estimates that, over the course of the lockdown period, childcare providers who have faced a hit to their finances may have lost £228m. The figure reflects an assumption that parents paid no fees while settings were closed – if they paid 15% of fees, losses over the 10 weeks of lockdown would have amounted to £185m.

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