Opinion: The government must do more to support nurseries and childcare providers

PUBLISHED: 08:30 02 May 2020

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq is concerned about the early years sector during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq is concerned about the early years sector during the coronavirus pandemic.

PA Archive/PA Images

Childcare is absolutely vital for families with young children.

With most children staying at home right now and lots of other things to worry about, it’s understandably not on the top of everyone’s mind. But nurseries, childminders and other childcare providers are on the brink of collapse.

If we don’t act now to save the early years sector, key worker parents on the frontline may be forced to stay at home, and we might just find that there aren’t enough childcare places for other children when this crisis ends.

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I have been contacted by a number of nurseries in Hampstead and Kilburn who fear for their survival.

Having been told that they could furlough staff whilst receiving local authority funding, the government added severe restrictions to this funding just three days before the furlough scheme opened on Monday.

Parents’ fees have dried up in this crisis, yet other costs like rents and bills are continuing, so this U-turn could cripple childcare businesses. Many more nurseries now face the appalling prospect of laying off valued staff or closing to key workers and vulnerable children.

As Labour’s shadow minister for children and early years, I have been leading the campaign against this decision, and fighting for a proper funding plan for essential childcare providers. I met the minister responsible on Thursday to urge her to reconsider this decision and do more to support the sector, which has been underfunded for a decade despite its crucial importance for so many families.

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