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Trade unions call for emergency bailout for childcare sector

The TUC has called for an emergency government bailout of the childcare industry, to help nurseries and childminders on the verge of collapse.

In a new report out today (4 June), the TUC has warned that at least one in four nurseries may struggle to reopen.

And it adds that if childcare suddenly becomes unavailable, many mums could lose their jobs or pay as they struggle to balance work and care.

In addition, the report adds the NHS contact tracing system may require childcare providers and schools to shut down at very short notice following an outbreak.

Last month, the Local Government Association (LGA) called on ministers to ensure early years providers are adequately funded, as many prepared to reopen on 1 June.

According to the LGA, more than 69,000 early years providers have temporarily closed during the coronavirus pandemic, with many settings citing financial difficulties as a key reason.

‘Our childcare sector is on the brink of collapse – and it’s putting women’s jobs on the line. If childcare places disappear, women will be pushed out of the workforce,’ said TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady.

‘Women workers are bearing the brunt of this crisis, both on the frontline and at home. Mums have picked up the majority of childcare while nurseries and schools have been closed – and many have had to sacrifice work hours and pay to do so.

‘The government can’t stand by while mums are forced out of their jobs. Childcare is necessary if we are going to work our way out of this economic crisis and stop the misery of mass unemployment. If we’re all in this together, nurseries desperately need government cash to stay open.’

The chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, Neil Leitch welcomed the TUC’s calls for a bailout of the childcare sector.

‘We have long been arguing that without necessary financial support from the government, the childcare sector is at risk of collapse, a frightening reality which has been drawn ever closer by the damaging economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak,’ said Mr Leitch.

‘As the TUC rightly points out, nurseries, pre-schools and childminders across England are struggling to remain financially viable, and we know from our own research that 1/4 childcare providers fear closure in the next 12 months.

‘Early years providers play a fundamental role in our national infrastructure and will be crucial to limiting the economic impact of Covid-19 by allowing parents, and particularly mothers, to return to work. Without urgent action the government risks sleep-walking the sector into a potentially irreversible financial crisis that will have disastrous long-term impacts on the quality and availability of childcare in this country.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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