Coronavirus: Job Retention Scheme throws sector a lifeline

Chancellor unveils support for early years providers as they struggle to establish how many staff to keep on from today (Monday 23 March).

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through the crisis period caused by COVID-19.

This now includes a Job Retention Scheme which is being welcomed by providers preparing to close either fully or partially this week.

At the Early Years Alliance, chief executive Neil Leitch said: ‘With many still working out exactly how many children will be eligible for care as of Monday, and in turn, how many staff they will need, it is incredibly reassuring to know that providers will be able to continue to pay staff who are not needed to work during this period up to 80 per cent of their wages for the next three months.

 ‘This, alongside the postponement of VAT payments until June, will make a huge difference to helping providers weather this storm and the government should be commended for taking these important steps.

‘That said, we recognise that self-employed childminders will not be enjoying the same feeling of relief that the rest of the sector will and so we will continue to push for more support for this vital part of the childcare sector.’

At the National Day Nurseries Association, chief executive Purnima Tanuku corroborates that the Job Retention Scheme will go a long way to reassuring providers facing anxious times: ‘The Government’s decision to keep schools and nurseries open for only vulnerable children and families of key workers has led to a lot of uncertainty with nurseries wanting to protect their staff while also staying open.

‘We have consistently lobbied for more support for nurseries at this time and welcome the Chancellor’s Scheme paying up to 80 per cent of staff wages for people who are unable to work. There are a lot of dedicated and skilled people in the early years sector who we will need to be in post and ready when the country returns to work.

‘Deferring VAT payments will also help nurseries short term but in the long term we want to see them fully exempted. We will wait to see the detail of how the scheme will be administered and hope this will be in place quickly as we know nurseries are worried about the impact of partial or full closures.”

The package of measures to support businesses includes:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

 More information here  

CASE STUDY

Little Skaters Nursery, based in St Leonards has pledged to stay open for the children of key workers – both existing customers and those unable to access childcare, writes Kathy Oxtoby.

Little Skaters Nursery & Pre-School has said it would continue to support the children of key workers listed by the Government following its announcement of nursery closures last week.

Nick Porter, managing director of Total Childcare Services Ltd, which runs Little Skaters nursery said, ‘When the impending closure of schools was announced last Wednesday we said “right, how do we rise to that challenge using our early years experience”?’

He said the initial information from the Government following the announcement ‘wasn’t clear’, but he recognised that ‘strong leadership and clear decision making was needed’ to inform key workers that the nursery would continue to support local working families.

The nursery has identified 15 key workers on its list of families who would need childcare on a daily basis, identified staff to match their needs, ‘and will continue to provide families with that service’, Mr Porter said.

The nursery has also advertised that it will take other key worker’s children ‘who aren’t currently our customers if they aren’t able to have childcare elsewhere’, he said.

Mr Porter said the nursery’s intention was to stay open ‘as long as we safely can do. We would only close if we are ordered to by the Government’.

He stressed the importance of a ‘strict regime, as do other childcare settings, to maintain high standards already had in place to control the spread of infectious diseases’. But he said it was ‘the right thing to stay open for key workers because having been in that key worker position myself, working in the police force, I know the challenges these families face, and I understand the need to have those key workers at work’.

Despite staying open for business, he said the nursery had been forced to reduce staff hours because it will not be receiving its usual income. He urged the Government to provide ‘additional funding so that our staff don’t lose out on their wages through us providing a critical service’.

 

 

 

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