One in four nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in England say it’s ‘unlikely’ that they’ll still be operating in 12 months’ time, according to a new survey.
The survey by the Early Years Alliance also finds that almost three quarters (74%) of childcare providers do not think that the government has provided enough support for the early years sector during the current coronavirus crisis.
One key area of concern for those surveyed was the recent government U-turn on the level of support nurseries, pre-schools, and childminders who employ assistants can access through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Official guidance published on 24 March stated that childcare settings could benefit from both early entitlement funding and the Job Retention Scheme.
However, on 17 April, the Department for Education published fresh guidance which placed new limitations on how much financial support providers receiving early entitlement funding could receive via the scheme.
However, the Alliance’s survey found that, of those childcare providers who employ staff, three quarters thought they would be able to access the scheme in full alongside early entitlement funding prior to the new guidance being published on 17 April.
A similar number (71%) had already furloughed staff ahead of the new guidance being released, while a further 11% had informed staff they were going to be furloughed.
When asked what impact the new limitations on furlough funding would have, around half (47%)said they may need to make staff redundant.
‘These findings paint a truly worrying picture of a sector struggling to cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, and not getting anywhere near the support needed to make it through this crisis,’ said Alliance chair, Neil Leitch.
‘Many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders were already struggling financially long before the coronavirus outbreak hit as a result of years and years of severe underfunding – and while the government has taken some steps to support providers during this period, as the results of the survey show, they are simply not enough.
‘The government must now accept that it needs to do much more to support early years providers in this country – otherwise, we may not have a functional childcare sector when this crisis is, eventually, over,’ he added.
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