The Early Years Alliance has criticised the government for failing to provide any financial support to childcare providers to help cover the additional costs of operating during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter sent to education secretary Gavin Williamson and children and families minister Vicky Ford, the organisation has called for financial support for the steps childcare providers need to take to keep their settings safe – such as additional cleaning and the purchase of PPE.
The letter argues that such support likely to be ‘critical’ at a time when one in four providers fear closure in the next 12 months.
Guidance published earlier this month by the Department for Education confirmed that schools could apply for additional financial support to help with the ‘exceptional costs associated with Coronavirus for the period of March to July’, including increased premises related costs and additional cleaning costs.
However, the alliance claims the government has not announced any plans for any equivalent support schemes for early years providers, despite the fact that, like schools, they have been encouraged to remain open to key worker and vulnerable children since the end of March, and are now being asked to open more widely as of 1 June.
‘We know that many providers are still reviewing whether or not they will be able to open on 1 June – but for those that intend to do so, the government must commit to providing the funding needed to meet the additional costs of operating during this period, just as they have already done for schools,’ said alliance chief executive, Neil Leitch.
‘Infection prevention is rightly a key consideration for providers planning for the reopening of their setting, which in practice will mean additional cleaning, the purchasing of PPE, the replacement of some equipment and resources, and the additional staff time required to carry out this work – all of which will come at no insignificant cost to providers,’ he added.
“It beggars belief, therefore, that while the government has already ensured that extra support has been made available to schools to help meet these costs, no equivalent financial commitment has been made for the many thousands of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders operating around the country.’
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