The Competition and Markets Authority today launched a programme of work to investigate reports of businesses failing to respect cancellation rights during the Coronavirus pandemic. This follows an increasing number of complaints it has received into cancellations and refunds, including concerns some childcare providers are refusing refunds or pressuring people to pay fees even though their service is closed.
Liz Bayram, PACEY chief executive, commented: “We have been clear to our members that they should focus on remotely supporting the children and families who have been using their childcare service and to explore whether parents are able to pay a voluntary retainer fee, so their childcare setting can remain in business to care for their children when this pandemic is over. We have made clear to our members that continuing to charge or refusing to give a refund when your service is closed is not advisable, especially as you will want your families to return to you afterwards.
“We know that the vast majority of childcare providers are closed; not charging fees or are open to key worker’s children and vulnerable children despite making significant losses and putting their own health at risk. Childcare providers, especially registered childminders, are struggling like many other businesses at the moment. They have had to contend with forced closures; insurers who despite offering business interruption in their policies have not paid out for claims; and conflicting government guidance on staff furlough and government funded early education entitlement. This has been compounded by years of government underfunding of these early education entitlements.
“Nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are providing a vital service that will be key to supporting people to return to work and to helping children who have missed out on their early education to catch up. They need to be properly funded by government and supported to recover from this pandemic. If not, they will not be in business when working parents need them to return to their jobs; when we begin to kick-start the economy.”
PACEY will be working with NDNA to submit evidence to the CMA’s investigation setting out these issues in depth.