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Alliance raises concerns over support grants and self-employed income support schemes

By Rachel Lawler

The Alliance has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and business minister Alok Sharma calling for increased financial support for the early years sector.

The Alliance has highlighted significant gaps in the government’s support package for the sector, including restrictions on access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme while receiving early entitlement funding, access to the Small Business Grant and support for childminders.

Small Business Grants
Currently, early years providers can access the the Small Business Grant, which offers funding of £10,000 for businesses receiving rate relief. This excludes many childcare providers who do not pay business rates.

Childcare providers with a ratable value over £15,000 are unable to access the Small Business Grant, despite businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors being able to as long as their rateable value does not exceed £51,000.

Additional funding for businesses that are not eligible for the grants has been passed on to local authorities with the instruction to “priortise” businesses such as market traders and bed and breakfasts.

Self-Employed Income Support
The Alliance has also called for more support for self-employed childminders, as early entitlement funding often makes up a very small number of childminder places and many are ineligible for the government’s Self-employed Income Support Scheme.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Early years providers who receive early entitlement funding are able to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, but the amount they can claim varies depending on how much of their income the funding usually makes up.

Provider concerns
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "The government urgently needs to start listening to what the providers are saying about the support they need to survive the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. 

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."

Read the letter in full here

Find out more
Alliance slams U-turn on furlough scheme

Business Advice page: FAQs for providers

Blog: Quick Q and A: Job Retention Scheme and early years entitlement funding