Network Whispers - Coronavirus, open accounts, rate cuts and challenging underspends

Nursery World and National Day Nurseries Association join forces for a behind-the-scenes column

NOT GOING VIRAL? Nurseries are thinking twice about producing guidance on the deadly coronavirus, which has so far caused more than 900 deaths worldwide. One UK nursery group was planning to bring out guidance for practitioners but changed its mind ‘following legal advice’, opting instead to stick with existing public health information. The NDNA, however, has issued guidance to its members, including links to Government advice.

OPEN BOOK Will nurseries be publishing their accounts in full in an effort to persuade the Government and the public that they are underfunded? Speaking at a recent Ceeda conference, Tops Day Nurseries chief executive Cheryl Hadland said, ‘The elephant in the room is that people think we make a lot of money in this sector. How can we get a message out? I am prepared to show my books.’ Will she, and will others follow suit?

UP AND DOWN Settings in Redbridge, London have been told they will get 14p per hour per child less because of a £1.5 million council overspend in 2018/19. Nursery owner Louise Felstead of Woodford Green, who put her fees up in January, said this would mean she would have to increase her fees again or not take funded children. ‘The [6 per cent] wage rises in April will push up my costs by much more than 6 per cent. It’s those who can’t afford it who will suffer the most,’ she said. A Redbridge Council spokesman said, ‘Early years providers in Redbridge can rest assured that they will not be asked to pay back the overpaid amount they received last year. In April this year, the funding will return to the correct level for the coming financial year.’

PAYBACK TIME After it was revealed that the majority of English councils underspend their three- and four-year-old funding in a recent NDNA investigation, the Champagne Nurseries campaign group has set up a closed Facebook group to help settings receive the money they should have been paid.

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