Early years settings face 'unprecedented threat'
Friday, March 20, 2020
Early years settings will close en masse unless they get a significant funding package of support, MPs and sector bodies have warned.
The news follows the first reading of the coronavirus bill, which will provide powers to instruct childcare providers to close, or stay open for children of key workers, and is expected to become law by the end of the month.
Yesterday Lucy Powell wrote to the Education Secretary warning of ‘an unprecedented threat to nurseries across the UK’.
The MP for Manchester Central said, ‘Without further Government support the majority of nurseries will go out of business and this will undoubtedly have a knock on effect on the entire economy as many workers will be without childcare.
‘On top of this, we are at risk of losing one of the most important aspects of our education system. Nursery schools and early years provision set children up for the rest of their lives and as things stand, many children are at risk of missing out on this.’
She asked the Government to outline what support it will provide to compensate for lost parental fee income. The Government has previously promised that funding for the free early-years entitlements for two to four-year olds will continue and not be clawed back, which it said represented about about 50% of the income for childcare providers for that age group.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, has said existing measures failed to go ‘far enough to safeguard the early years sector at this crucial time’.
Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association, has called the announcement of forced closures 'absolutely devastating news' for the sector and said she 'expressed my total shock and disappointment to the minister who had previously assured us they would keep nurseries open as long as possible.'
The DfE, which held an emergency meeting with key sector representatives yesterday, says it continues ‘to work closely with the early years sector and we are urgently investigating ways to mitigate the negative impact of these closures.’
Further DfE statements are expected today on how the childcare closures/ openings will be operable, while the chancellor is expected to announce an employment and wage subsidy package to try to protect millions of jobs this afternoon.