09 Oct 2018, Catherine Gaunt
It comes after the business rates petition started by nursery manager Victoria Whitty had reached 10,915 signatures when it closed on Friday (5 October), hitting the target to qualify for a Government response.
Last month (27 September) nurseries in Wales were granted exemption from business rates from April 2019 as part of plans to help the childcare sector to expand.
Since April, all nurseries in Scotland have been exempt from business rates.
NDNA’s research with members suggests that the average business rates bill is almost £11,000 and 52 per cent of members say their bill has increased in the last year.
Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of NDNA, said, ‘Most of the nurseries we represent say they are making losses on funded places and are struggling to remain sustainable.
‘Nurseries need to have plenty of space for young children to grow, develop, play and explore. These are not factories or shops, these are businesses that educate and care for our youngest children. They should not be penalised for offering a good learning environment for them in which to thrive.
‘Nurseries fulfil a crucial role in society, setting our children off on the right path and reducing inequalities in society and it is important for the Government to recognise the work being done.
‘At NDNA we have worked with the Welsh and Scottish Governments to see nurseries exempt from paying this unfair tax in recognition of their contribution in delivering government policies, it’s time that English nurseries were treated the same.
‘Ahead of the Autumn Budget, we hope the chancellor and the education secretary will be open to working with the sector and recognise the clear reasons that make nurseries a special case.
'Thousands of people have already signed a petition which NDNA supported to abolish this unfair tax on nurseries and the Government now has to consider this strength of feeling and respond. For some nurseries, abolishing this tax bill can mean the difference between staying open and having to close.'
Victoria Whitty, manager of Hocus Pocus Day Nursery in Bolton, said, ‘Firstly a huge thank you to all who have signed and continue to sign the petition. What we as nursery owners, managers and users have achieved is fantastic. We have managed to make some noise, in what we know will be an ongoing battle.
‘Let’s hope that we continue to be heard and that the Government starts to listen, so that we can celebrate in the near future.’