Quarter of early years settings unsure they will be open in a year

A quarter of childcare settings may not be open in a year and they blame historic underfunding and a lack of support from the government during the coronavirus pandemic.

reviews of policy following the general election result.

 

One in four nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in England say it’s “unlikely” that they’ll still be operating in 12 months’ time, according to a new survey from the Early Years Alliance.

They blame historic underfunding and a lack of adequate government support during the coronavirus crisis.

The online survey of more than 3,000 childcare providers found that 25% of respondents felt that it was ‘somewhat unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’ that they would be operating in 12 months’ time. Nearly three quarter said the government hasn’t provided enough support for early years providers during the coronavirus crisis.

The Early Years Alliance says a key area of concern for childcare providers was the recent change of government guidance regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which placed new limitations on how much financial support providers receiving early entitlement funding could receive via the scheme.

The survey shows 75% thought they would be able to access the scheme in full alongside early entitlement funding prior to the new guidance coming out, 71% had already furloughed staff ahead of the new guidance being released and a further 11% had informed staff they were going to be furloughed.

When asked what impact the new limitations on furlough funding would have, 47% said they may need to make staff redundant, 37% said they may need to retract offers to top up staff wages to 100% and 21% said they may need to retract offers to waive or reduce parent fees.

The survey also showed concerns among some childcare settings who are unable to benefit from the government’s £10,000 Small Business Grant because they rent their premises or are based in premises that don’t attract rate relief. Other settings are unable to benefit from the grant scheme because their premises have a rateable value of more than £15,000. Childminders also expressed concern that they will not get any financial support from the Self-employed Income Support Scheme until June or may not be able to benefit at all if they have been operating for less than a year.

Calling for a reversal of the change in the furlough scheme, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said:  “Many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders were already struggling financially long before the coronavirus outbreak hit as a result of years and years of severe underfunding – and while the government has taken some steps to support providers during this period, as the results of the survey show, they are simply not enough…

“Like schools, early years settings are an essential part of our social infrastructure, and will play a vital role in supporting parents to be able to return to work as the current lockdown situation is eased…abandoning the early years sector at this critical time will cause untold damage to this country’s economy in the long term.

“The government must now accept that it needs to do much more to support early years providers in this country – otherwise, we may not have a functional childcare sector when this crisis is, eventually, over.”



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