If nurseries are shut down in view of Covid-19, the Government should set up an emergency fund to ensure their survival and ensure that parents are not charged the full fee by the nurseries to keep children's places.
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Being without childcare and having to pay nursery fees is a great concern for parents with small children. Nursery-based care is already extremely expensive, especially for children up to the age of 3. To expect parents to pay these fees up front to keep a place at the time when there is no accessible childcare (and for many parents no paid work), is unrealistic. We also need these nurseries to survive. When this is over, parents want their children to return to their nurseries.
Tuesday 14th April 2020
The Government has announced a comprehensive package of support for individuals and businesses which will directly benefit providers of childcare.
Hard-working parents across the country rely on childcare to help them balance their home and work commitments. We can rightly be proud of our childcare sector. 96% of childcare settings in England are now rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, an increase from 74% in 2012.
During the current Coronavirus outbreak, the Government wants to support nurseries, pre-schools and childminders during what must be a worrying and uncertain time.
We have asked childcare providers to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
To help them do this, we have taken steps to directly support childcare providers in the current crisis.
We currently fund local authorities (LAs) to pay early education providers to offer up to 30 hours of early education per week, to qualifying families, for two, three and four-year-old children. We announced on 17 March that we will continue to pay this funding to LAs, which will provide reassurance for early years settings.
We have also put in place a significant package of financial support including a business rate holiday for many private providers and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to support workers. We expect nurseries to take a reasonable and proportionate approach to parents’ fees, in light of these unprecedented circumstances, and to communicate any arrangements clearly with them
Furthermore, childcare providers will benefit from the additional range of financial assistance measures we have introduced to support workers and businesses at this time.
We have announced that childcare providers will be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year. That means non-local authority providers of childcare (registered with Ofsted and providing EYFS) will pay no business rates in 2020 to 2021, from 1 April. This includes nurseries which are eligible for a charitable status relief – they will also pay no business rates at all in 2020-21 – and nurseries in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief will benefit from small business grant funding of £10,000 (we also know that some settings operate from shared spaces which may now benefit from a 100% rates relief – and we strongly encourage those shared spaces to reflect any business rates saving in their rent charges).
We have also set up schemes to help employees and the self-employed, during the outbreak – which will benefit both providers and parents. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means that for employees who are not working but kept on payroll, the Government will contribute 80% of each worker’s wages of up to £2,500, backdated to 1 March 2020. Businesses can access this scheme while continuing to be paid the early entitlements funding via local authorities. The self-employed may be eligible for taxable grants under the Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme, announced on 26 March.
We thank the nurseries and other childcare providers who are working so hard to care for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. This is a vital part of our fight against Coronavirus. In turn, we are working hard to mitigate the impacts of Coronavirus on all parts of our society. In the light of the steps we have already taken, we urge all childcare providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents, given the great uncertainty they will be facing too. We are keeping under very close review what further support individuals and businesses may require.
Further information relating to setting closures, plus the full range of support available for workers and businesses can be found here:
Department for Education