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Alliance slams Treasury 'silence' on childcare sector

By Rachel LawlerRishi Sunak

The Alliance has written to the Chancellor about the Treasury's lack of support for the childcare sector in his announcements yesterday.

Yesterday, Rishi Sunak unveiled a raft of financial measures designed to support the leisure, retail and hospitality sectors during the coronavirus outbreak, without offering any new support for businesses in the childcare sector.

Funding for local authorities
While the Department for Education separately confirmed that it would continue to pay local authorities for its funded childcare offers, many providers will still struggle to make ends meet without parent fees.

Many providers are also struggling with staff shortages and low attendence due to illness and self-isolation recommendations during the outbreak. Acessing food and cleaning products has also been a problem for the sector.

Alliance letter to Treasury
In a letter to the Chancellor, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: 

"We know that these are unprecedented circumstances and that the government is currently faced with the significant challenge of meeting the needs of a range of industries at a time when those needs are varied and sizeable. But the Treasury's silence on financial support for the early sector in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak cannot continue.

"In yesterday's press conference, you announced a range of substantial measures to help ensure businesses can weather the current storm and mitigate, as far as possible, the detrimental impact of the virus.

"It was of immense concern, therefore, that there was zero mention of the childcare sector. I know that businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries will have warmly welcomed your announcement on business rates relief, but for childcare providers, their omission from this measure was inexplicable.

"Much has been made of the value of the schools in supporting parents, particularly those working in key frontline services, to continue to work during this outbreak - but if early years providers are no longer able to operate because of a lack of financial support from government, the impact on working families, and the wider economy, will be just as devastating.

"Today's announcement by the Department for Education on the continuation of 'free entitlement' funding if settings are forced to close due to coronavirus was a very welcome one, but with many providers reliant on parent fees as a vital source of revenue, this alone is not enough to safeguard the sector.

"It seems that our vital sector has been all but forgotten in Treasury discussions on protecting businesses from the impact of coronavirus, and those working in nurseries, pre-schools and as childminders across the country feel frightened, angry and abandoned during their time of need.

"As such, the Early Years Alliance as the largest early years membership organisation in England, is calling on the Treasury to act now to prevent a full-blown crisis in the childcare sector - because we know that this outbreak is going to get worse before it gets better."

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