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Supermarkets asked to support early years sector in crisis

By Rachel Lawlerchildren's lunch childcare

The Alliance has written to the heads of the UK's major supermarket chains, asking them to support childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Supermarkets have been asked to ensure that providers have access to food and vital resources during widespread panic-buying in many stores.

A number of settings have reported difficulties when purchasing food and other key items due to low stock levels as a result of panic-buying.

Consumers have been struggling to purchase items including pasta, tinned vegetables, rice, soap, toilet paper and cleaning products in recent weeks both online and in physical stores.

Many online supermarket services are fully booked for the next couple of weeks.

Letter to supermarkets
In a letter to the heads of Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys, Lidl, Aldi, Morrisons and Waitrose, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: "As the chief executive of the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England, I am increasingly receiving concerning reports from our members and childcare providers across England being unable to purchase vital food and resources for their early years provision. 

"In these turbulent times, it is our responsibility to ensure that the early years sector is supported in delivering its vital work, which in turn allows hundreds of thousands of parents to continue going to work, ensuring stability for the wider economy. Shortages of products such as UHT milk, baby formula, toilet roll, anti-bacterial hand wash and other key products, will have a direct consequence on the ability of childcare providers to continue delivering the highest level of care. 

Vital provisions
"With this in mind, I write to kindly request that, in addition to the announced measures, the UK’s major supermarkets work with us to develop a scheme that ensures childcare providers across the UK have access to the vital provisions they need to ensure the smooth running of their services.

"We welcome the news that some major supermarkets have introduced a scheme for the over 70s to have exclusive access to shops during the first hour of morning trading. We ask that you might consider extending this to designated staff from childcare providers so that we can continue to ensure that they have the necessary resources to ensure stability and quality of care in these most uncertain of times. 

"We recognise and thank you for your efforts in supporting communities to ensure the continued access to vital goods and I would welcome any further conversation as to how we can work together to support the early years sector.”