Call for nurseries to sign petition to axe business rates

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The National Day Nurseries Association is calling on the early years sector to unite behind a petition calling for business rates and VAT to be scrapped for nurseries in England.


Victoria Whitty, manager of Hocus Pocus Day Nursery in Bolton, who started the business rates petition

Governments in Scotland and Wales have already offered either full or partial rates relief for all childcare providers, and NDNA wants those in England to be given the same consideration.

The petition on the UK Government petitions website was started by Victoria Whitty, manager of Hocus Pocus Day Nursery in Bolton, and closes on 5 October. Petitions on the site are only kept open for six months. It follows a previous petition started last year by nursery owner Sue Johnson.

The petition needs at least 10,000 signatures for it to require a Government response and 100,000 for debate in Parliament.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of NDNA said, ‘Although many nurseries are businesses, it is unfair to punish them for giving children space to grow, play, develop and learn, especially when there are mandatory regulations on indoor and outdoor space.

‘Children are not commodities and it is about time that the Government understands that and makes childcare settings an exception. It has previously exempted pubs from paying this tax and what could be more worthy of attention than places where our young children start their learning journey?

‘We are asking everyone with an interest in early years, particularly parents and nursery staff, to take a minute to sign this petition which will show the strength of feeling across the country.’

Earlier this year, the Federation of Small Businesses called on the Government to create and fully-fund a new 100 per cent business rate relief scheme for childcare providers in England.

The NDNA, which has campaigned for an end to business rates for nurseries with success in Scotland and Wales, wants to keep pressure on the Government on the issue ahead of the budget in November.

Since April, nurseries in Scotland have been exempt from paying business rates under a scheme introduced by the Scottish government. Wales has also recently announced a small business rates relief scheme, but the Government has made no concessions for nurseries in England.

While local authorities have the flexibility to offer businesses discounts on business rates, Harrogate Borough Council is so far the only council to offer reductions to nurseries, following extensive lobbying by local providers.

Ms Tanuku added, ‘Funding for childcare is stagnating against a backdrop of rising staffing costs, overheads and inflation. So we are asking the Chancellor to offer some degree of support in removing this burden from childcare providers.’

‘In persisting with this unfair tax on nurseries, the Government is pushing up the cost of childcare for parents. As their shortfalls increase, nurseries have no choice but to pass this onto parents in the form of higher hourly rates for younger children or those wishing to purchase additional hours.

‘It’s time the Government recognised this and offered some form of support in order to reduce the overall cost of childcare.’

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