On Saturday (March 21), at 8am, the Early Years Alliance launched an Early Years Alliance's Childminder Action campaign, which provided childminders with a letter template which they could then personalise with their individual concerns and send directly to their local MP. By 4pm, 6900 letters had been sent via the campaign and the numbers are continuing to rise.
Many childminders are facing full or partial closures today (Monday 23 March) following the Government's call on all childcare providers, schools and other educational settings to close to all but the children of key workers and vulnerable children in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
On Friday 20 March, the Chancellor announced that the Government will allow all businesses to apply for grants to cover up to 80 per cent of salaries of staff who are not working but kept on payroll for three months during the coronavirus outbreak.
The scheme does not, however, apply to the self-employed who instead received increased benefits.
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Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, says that the fact that several thousands of childminders have written to their local MPs in a matter of hours shows the strength of feeling on this issue.
‘There's no doubt that the Chancellor's announcement was hugely welcomed by many nurseries and pre-schools, a significant proportion of whom were facing the prospect of having to lay off staff as a result of the upcoming partial closures of childcare settings. Of course, many questions about how the scheme will work in practice remain, but this move at least offered the prospect of crucial financial support at a very difficult time.
‘But like many of those currently self-employed, for the thousands of childminders delivering care and education around the country, the Chancellor’s announcement was a cause for deep concern, not celebration. With most childminders heavily reliant on private parental fees, many are facing a huge drop in income on Monday, and more and more are having to make incredibly difficult decisions about whether or not they can afford to stay open at all.
‘Childminders are an absolutely critical part of the early years and if more isn't done to ensure that they are able to remain financially viable during this crisis, we may lose them from the sector altogether.
‘The Treasury has been more generous than many would have anticipated in supporting workers – we urge them to stretch that generosity just a little further.’