Thousands of registered childminders are unlikely to receive the Government support they need to sustain their businesses, according to our new survey. Of particular concern are newly registered childminders who have invested in starting up their businesses in the last three years, who are set to receive no support.
The survey, completed by over 5,000 childminders across England and Wales, shows that the COVID-19 outbreak is having a devastating impact on the 40,000 childminders who provide a vital and high quality childcare service to parents and families. Furthermore, if they do not receive the financial support they need to survive the next few weeks, many are at risk of closure just at the point when families, business and the economy will need their support to return to work. 40% of childminders say they are not confident of their business being able to survive COVID-19.
Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of PACEY, said:
“Our survey paints a bleak picture of a profession of low-paid dedicated practitioners, mainly women, struggling to balance their work with other family caring responsibilities.
“Just under a quarter only had a total household income of between £10,000 and £20,000 last year; and just under 10% had an income of less than £10,000. These women don’t make profits, they survive on low-incomes that just cover their living costs. Whatever they have left over they plough back into their setting to ensure it provides children with the high quality experiences they are proud of delivering as early years practitioners.
“Many are struggling to pay bills now and having to wait until June to find out if they even qualify for Government support is an added strain. Worryingly, at least one in five childminders are likely to get no financial support from this Government scheme; one in five only made a total profit of less than £5,000 over three years and over a third of childminders say they either won’t open once the outbreak is over or don’t know what they’ll do. This is a wake-up call for anyone planning to rely on childcare to be able to return to work or study.”
PACEY is calling on government to:
- provide a government grant for those not eligible or receiving very low levels of Government support, such as the newly registered and those on very low incomes, to help them to stay afloat and prevent the closure of childminder settings
- reinstate its start-up grants for newly registered childminders so they are given the funding they need to set up their business.
- provide further support and training to enable childminders to develop sustainable businesses for the future and continue to provide the essential flexible and high quality childcare service that families and children need.
The PACEY survey revealed that:
- the vast majority (75%) of childminders made under £10,000 profit over the last three years. 21% made under £5,000 profit so are likely to get just £83 a week under the current government scheme to help cover their loss of earnings over three months.
- newer childminders (18% of survey respondents) who have paid on average £1,000 (in England) for the required training, registration and set-up costs to become a childminder will receive nothing. This equates to around 4,000 childminders, according to numbers registering with Ofsted over the past three years.
- whilst most believe they are eligible for some government support, over a third have also received PAYE income so may not in fact benefit if their self-employment forms less than 50% of income.
- many have sought additional financial support to help them through the crisis including universal credit (27%), mortgage holiday (26%), borrowing from family and friends (28%) and cutting back on personal spending (75%).
Liz Bayram, PACEY Chief Executive, continued: “Childminders are amongst the unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic. Our survey reveals over half of them are open to provide childcare to vulnerable children and children of key workers, providing care in their own home despite the risk to their own families. They – like other early years and childcare providers – will play a critical role in supporting the UK to get back to work. More needs to be done to ensure childminding still provides the 250,000 high quality and flexible places that families across the country need.”
Case studies of childminders:
“I don’t qualify for Government support and I am devastated thinking about what this might mean for my future as a childminder. I am fearful for the future. I really want to open up my business again – I have so many skills to offer as a childminder but I am not sure how I will keep going.”
Karen Davison, Darlington. Former special needs teaching assistant and single parent
"We are in a dire financial situation. Before becoming a childminder I was a maths and IT teacher at a comprehensive for many years and also worked in an office for a construction firm. Either of those jobs would have provided more support for me during this pandemic – I feel I have nothing to rely on. I really want to reopen – I am passionate about childcare and early years education and want to build a thriving business but don’t know what we’ll do. I am really going to struggle to keep myself and my family going over the coming months. We are really worried that we might lose our home if we cannot find a way through and need urgent financial assistance."
Jody Cliffe, Chepstow, Monmouthshire. Former teacher
“I am not eligible for financial support and am in a desperate financial situation. I love being a childminder – it’s the best job in the world and I believe I bring such a lot to it through many years teaching experience. But if something doesn’t turn around by September I am going to be forced out of the sector and will need to find another job to ensure we stay afloat financially.”
Louise, Lincolnshire. Former primary school teacher.
“My childminding business was going really well, but it has been devastated by the coronavirus. Now I just have a few children, including children of nurses who work in an ICU Covid-ward in hospital. I am a single mum and my daughter has asthma so I am really worried about the risk to her health, but financially I have no choice. I am already on tax credits so not eligible for universal credit. I’m just scraping by through the next few months, but really worried about the future.”
Claire, Sheffield. Single parent. Childminder for six years.
PACEY has submitted evidence to HM Treasury and Chancellor Rishi Sunak highlighting these issues and our key proposals for ongoing support for the childminding sector.