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Employers to get £1,000 bonus for retaining furloughed staff

By Rachel LawlerRishi Sunka

The government will pay employers a £1,000 bonus for each member of staff kept on for three months following the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in October 2020.

Employees will need to be paid an average of £520 a month between November 2020 and January 2021, although it is not yet clear how this will work alongside early years funding.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak commented: “If you stand by your workers, we will stand by you.”

£30bn support for economy
The measure was revealed as part of a £30 billion new plan to help prevent unemployment following the coronavirus crisis in the UK.

Further announcements also saw VAT on food, accommodation and attractions reduced from 20% to 5% from Wednesday 15 July onwards.

The new plans did not include any specific support for the early years sector, however, Conservative MP Steve Brine did secure a meeting with Sunak on the topic following a discussion on the topic in Parliament.

Forgotten sector
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “With one in four nurseries, pre-schools and childminders fearing closure within the year, rising to one in three in the most disadvantaged areas, it is clear that inaction is not an option – and yet the government continues to ignore the fact that the childcare sector in this country is in crisis.

“The Chancellor promised that the government would 'protect, support and create jobs', but the fact is that if parents are unable to access childcare because so many early years providers have been forced into closure, this simply won’t be possible.

"With the furlough scheme confirmed as ending in October, the financial pressure on childcare settings is only going to worsen over the coming months. While the new Job Retention Bonus for unfurloughed staff kept on until at least January is a welcome policy, for those providers unsure whether or not they will survive the autumn, it will come as little comfort. 

“The government needs to urgently reconsider this short-sighted approach and commit to providing the financial support that the childcare sector needs not only to survive the immediate challenges caused by the coronavirus crisis, but also to remain sustainable in the longer term.”

Find out more

The Forgotten Sector: the Alliance's latest report
Ask your MP to demand financial help for early years providers