Keir Starmer calls for urgent support for early years sector
By Rachel Lawler
Keir Starmer has called for targeted support for the childcare sector following the coronavirus crisis.
The Labour Party leader said that the Prime Minister had put parents in an “impossible position” by urging workers to return to offices over the summer, while failing to provide financial support for childcare, holiday activities and catch-up schemes.
Starmer said: “We all want society to get moving again, but it requires a clear plan and national leadership from the government. Despite ordering millions of parents back to the office, the Prime Minister has refused to provide any extra help for families, penalising parents by putting them in an impossible position.
“Parents got a back-to-work notice on Friday just as the summer holidays began. But they got no support for structured activities, no summer catch-up schemes, and no support for a childcare sector on its knees.
“If we are going to reopen our society and economy safely and successfully, we need the public to have confidence in the government’s advice, we need test, track and trace to be working properly, and we need proper support for children to learn and for parents to get back to work.”
Last month, the Alliance published its latest report, The Forgotten Sector, which details the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the sector. It warns that 69% of providers expect to operate at a loss over the next six months, while 25% say that it is “likely” that they will be forced to close within a year.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented on the latest update from Labour: "Keir Starmer is absolutely right to join us in condemning the government's lack of support for the childcare sector.
"We have long been calling on the government to provide the transitional funding the sector urgently needs to survive, and yet despite the fact that one in four providers fear permanent closure within 12 months, these calls continue to fall on deaf ears.
"If the government is serious about supporting parents and rebooting the economy, it cannot afford to sit by and watch thousands more childcare providers go out of business.
"Now more than ever, the government must show real leadership on this issue and provide the sector with the funding it desperately needs to survive, and to ensure that parents can continue to access high quality and affordable childcare as they return to work."