In a letter written today to Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP and Business Secretary Alok Sharma MP, the Alliance is asking the Government to address its last-minute decision to place restrictions on providers’ access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and to honour the original guidance which the majority of early years settings based their business and financial planning on.
It is also asking for the unfair discrepancies in the availability of business support grants for providers to be addressed and for additional financial safeguards for childminders. This includes using income to calculate entitlements in the Self-employed Income Support Scheme rather than profits, and allowing 2019/20 tax returns to be taken into account for the purposes of the scheme.
The move follows the release of the Alliance's survey of over 3,000 childminders, nurseries and pre-schools on the impact of government support schemes on the sector during the pandemic, which found that one in four childcare providers in England think it is unlikely that they will still be operating in 12 months’ time.
Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch said: ‘Simply put, the current package of government measures to support the sector is wholly inadequate. Access to the Job Retention Scheme is far more limited than was originally promised, the ability to benefit from business support grants is wholly inconsistent with other sectors, and the support for childminders is too little, and too late, with those newly-employed in the sector left with no support whatsoever.
‘If the purpose of government support for early years is to ensure that they are able to remain sustainable through the coronavirus crisis and beyond, the fact that one in four don’t expect to still be operating in a year’s time is a damning indictment on the steps taken so far.
‘We are asking both the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to engage in honest, constructive discussions with the Alliance and the wider sector. The Government must now commit to doing what is needed to ensure that providers remain viable in the long term.’