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Alliance calls for financial support for sector ahead of 1 June reopening

By Rachel Lawlermother and toddler

The Alliance has written to education secretary Gavin Williamson and children and families minister Vicky Ford, asking for additional financial support for early years settings as the sector gets ready to reopen to more children from 1 June onwards. 

The Alliance is asking the government to help childcare providers with the additional costs needed to reopen and operate safely during the coronavirus outbreak, such as additional cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE).

School funding
In guidance published on 7 April, the Department for Education confirmed that schools could apply for additional financial support to help with the "exceptional costs associated with Coronavirus for the period of March to July", including increased premises related costs and additional cleaning costs.

Schools with 250 pupils or fewer are eligible to claim up to £25,000 worth of support, while those with over 1000 pupils can claim up to £75,000.

Early years providers
However, the government has not announced any plans for any equivalent support schemes for early years providers, despite the fact that, like schools, they have been encouraged to remain open to key worker and vulnerable children since the end of March, and are now being asked to open more widely as of 1 June. 

Neil Leitch chief executive of the Alliance, said: “We know that many providers are still reviewing whether or not they will be able to open on 1 June – but for those that intend to do so, the government must commit to providing the funding needed to meet the additional costs of operating during this period, just as they have already done for schools. 

"Infection prevention is rightly a key consideration for providers planning for the reopening of their setting, which in practice will mean additional cleaning, the purchasing of PPE, the replacement of some equipment and resources, and the additional staff time required to carry out this work – all of which will come at no insignificant cost to providers. 

Significant difficulties
“It beggars belief, therefore, that while the government has already ensured that extra support has been made available to schools to help meet these costs, no equivalent financial commitment has been made for the many thousands of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders operating around the country. 

“Early years providers are already facing significant financial difficulties as a result of inadequate government support during this period. The government must act urgently to address this disparity and ensure that no provider is financially disadvantaged for trying to ensure that their setting is as safe as possible for their staff, families and the children in their care.”

Useful links

Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings

Operating during the lockdown and beyond