Labour warns of ‘perfect storm’ for childcare
By Rachel Lawler
The Labour Party has warned that a “perfect storm” of rising costs and a lack of government support could lead to the closure of many childcare providers.
The party analysed data from a recent Alliance survey and found that nearly 19,000 providers could close within the next year. This is around 25% of England’s 75,000 childcare settings.
The party accused the government of “neglecting” the sector in its response to the coronavirus crisis after the Chancellor failed to mention the early years when announcing plans to reopen education in England.
Labour also warned that there would be further challenges ahead if families cannot access informal childcare from grandparents and other family members.
Crisis in childcare
Kate Green, shadow education secretary for Labour, said: “The Conservatives have created a perfect storm for working parents across the country, with a crisis in the childcare sector locking children out of early education and making it impossible for many parents to return to work.
“Ordering parents back to work without allowing them to access the childcare they need is a stark reminder that Boris Johnson is completely out of touch with the needs of working families.
“The Government must urgently provide targeted support to the childcare sector, and ensure that parents can access the childcare that they need.”
Rising childcare costs
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "We know that many parents across the country have struggled with rising childcare costs over recent years, as early years providers have been forced to increase fees to try and plug the gap left by inadequate government funding.
"Years of underinvestment into the sector had already left nurseries, pre-schools and childminders struggling to stay afloat, and so it's no surprise that the additional impact of the coronavirus outbreak has meant that many are now reaching breaking point.
"With a quarter of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders fearing permanent closure within the year, rising to as much as a third in some regions, it is simply unacceptable for the government to remain silent on this critical issue. The reality is that the support the government has provided to the early years sector so far is simply not enough to ensure that childcare providers are able to survive this crisis.
"Failure to provide the funding the sector needs in the short- and long-term could mean the closure of thousands more providers, leaving parents without the childcare they need to return to work. If the government is serious about ensuring our economy is able to recover from the impact of the pandemic, it simply cannot let the childcare sector fall by the wayside."