Labour urges government for early years package
By Rachel Lawler
The Labour Party has called on the government to provide urgent financial support for the early years sector to "prevent a wave of nursery closures" following the coronavirus outbreak.
Tulip Siddiq, shadow minister for children and early years, commented: "Childcare is absolutely essential for working parents and to our economic recovery from coronavirus. But it has been ignored by the government in this crisis, with the early years sector consistently excluded from support packages.
"We are already losing hundreds of nurseries and childminders every month before this crisis hit due to years of underfunding. We can't afford for any more to close, but that is precisely what will happen unless the government targets support properly on sectors like childcare."
The Labour Party says that 14,000 childcare providers have closed since 2015 and cited the Alliance's latest report, The Forgotten Sector, which suggests that a quarter of providers may not survive the current crisis.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “We have long argued that the current lack of government support for the childcare sector is likely to hugely damage the country’s chances of economic recovery.
“The early years sector was already struggling long before the outbreak of coronavirus, and with a loss of over 14,000 providers since 2015, it is simply astounding that the government has not acted sooner on this vital issue.
“The fact is that without urgent government support, the joint impact of years of underfunding and the coronavirus pandemic means that we risk losing thousands more nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in the coming months - and there is no doubt that this will have a significant impact on the ability of parents to access quality childcare, and of mothers in particular to return to work.
"If the government is serious about supporting families, protecting jobs and safeguarding the economy, there is no better action it could take than investing to ensure that the early years sector can remain sustainable not only in the short-term, but for generations to come.”
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