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NEWS: Early years organisations call for urgent support in face of COVID-19


Leading early years organisations National Day Nurseries Association and Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) have joined together to call on the Chancellor to offer more support urgently to childcare providers affected by COVID-19 and to set up a childcare taskforce made up of providers and their representatives to better co-ordinate this support.

With uncertainty about whether nurseries, pre-schools and childminders may have to close as a result of the spread of Coronavirus and the need for people to self-isolate, these representative bodies are seeking urgent clarification about emergency government support for sustainability, continuity of early education funding as well as back up support for the majority of settings that do not have loss of earnings included in their business insurance.

Alongside this, the organisations are highlighting that the government’s unwillingness to provide business rate relief for eligible registered providers whilst doing so for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors has fuelled growing anger and concern.

Some areas of government support are available to some small businesses including some childcare providers. These have been welcomed by NDNA and PACEY but urgent clarification is being sought as to whether micro businesses, voluntary run groups as well as self-employed providers such as registered childminders will benefit from the measures, including those set out below:

  • Statutory Sick Pay support for 14 days for SMEs (with fewer than 250 staff) whose staff have to self-isolate
  • Business interruption loans up to £1.2 million for SMEs
  • HMRC’s offering time to pay for outstanding tax bills on a case by case basis
  • Individual banks offering mortgage holidays and additional credit facilities
  • Making it easier to make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance during the outbreak.
  • Employment and Support Allowance will be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8
  • The requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating
  • People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate.
  • A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals receive support with their tax affairs. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

NDNA Chief Executive, Purnima Tanuku OBE said: “Early years providers are crucial to local economies and ensuring children get the best possible start in life. Our members are working round the clock to ensure their settings are safe and healthy environments so they can stay open for working families.

“What they need is more clarity from the Government about what will happen to funded places in the event of closures becoming necessary. We also want to see what back up the Government will offer for those who can’t get insurance cover for this new strain of disease. Without wholesale support settings that are forced to close might not be able to re-open.”

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of PACEY, said: “Up and down the country right now childminders, nurseries and pre-schools are doing all they can to help fight this virus as well as reassure the children in their care. All whilst trying to understand and mitigate the risk to their small business. We need government to act urgently to reassure settings that they will provide them with the necessary financial support to ensure, once this outbreak is over, that they can continue to provide the early education that children need and the childcare that working parents rely on. Providers need certainty on funding and support to overcome loss of business now. If government continues to delay, it will be the death knell for many providers who traditionally operate on very low incomes and with tight cashflows.”

The organisations are speaking up with one voice on behalf of the childcare sector to ensure the Government are aware of the unique challenges facing early years providers.