Tracy Brabin MP has called on the Government to reverse its U-turn on refusing financial support for nurseries during the Coronavirus crisis.
The Batley and Spen MP and Shadow Minister for the Cultural Industries has written to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak asking him to rethink the decision in order to protect early years practitioners.
When the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was announced in March, with the Government contributing 80% of employees wages up to £2,500 who are not working but are kept on the payroll, many early years settings furloughed the majority of their staff, while staying open for the children of key workers.
An Early Years Alliance survey also found 75% of providers believed they would be able to access the CJRS while still receiving early entitlements funding. However, in the evening of Friday 17th April – just days before the CJRS portal went live on Monday 20th April – new Government guidance stated providers could only access CJRS to “cover the proportion of its paybill which could be considered to have been paid for from that provider’s private income”.
The withdrawal of this support, which was initially promised to providers, has had a devastating impact, with a quarter of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders believing they will have to close in the next year.
While the Government is advising providers to welcome back children from the start of June, its likely many parents will be apprehensive to send their children back to childcare, and providers are likely to face several more months of financial problems.
Tracy Brabin was Shadow Minister for the Early Years from July 2017 until January 2020.
She said: “In my time as Shadow Minister for the Early Years, I saw first-hand the dedication of our childcare providers, working long hours often on low wages to provide the best possible service for our children.
“These formative years are crucial to our children’s development, and unless early years providers are supported by the Government many of these brilliant providers could close for good having a devastating impact for families.
“I’m calling on the Government to recognise the hard work and efforts these key workers have put in at these difficult times and take urgent action to ensure the survival of all our nurseries, pre-schools and childcare settings throughout and beyond the Covid-19 crisis.”