Tuesday 12 January 2021 / 1:54 PM Tulip Siddiq

Government telling nurseries to stay open at high capacity or close forever, says Labour

With new government data showing that attendance in early years settings was down by 50 per cent last week, Labour has criticised government plans which will see nurseries and childcare providers lose funding for each child who does not attend during lockdown.

Labour’s Shadow Early Years Minister Tulip Siddiq is warning that the Government has put nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in an impossible position with changes that will see funding withdrawn if parents choose to keep children at home or providers are forced to shut due to staffing pressures or safety fears.

Many families are choosing not to use early years settings in lockdown due to the stay at home message and furloughed parents keeping children at home. Yet Ministers are pressing ahead with changes to base funding for childcare providers on current attendance, which could see nearly 19,000 close within six months.

According to a survey by the Early Years Alliance at the end of last year, 25% of early years providers feared closure within six months if Ministers pressed ahead with changes to base funding on current occupancy. Labour analysis shows that this could result in nearly 19,000 early years providers closing before summer.

With many providers struggling to stay open at high capacity and evidence that childcare demand is reducing further in lockdown, the impact of these funding changes is now likely to be significantly worse. Providers that are forced to close due to staffing pressures during the lockdown will be especially hard hit.

 

Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children and Early, said:

“The Government should not be pressing ahead with these funding changes that will push thousands of early years providers to the brink of collapse.

“Nurseries, preschools and childminders will simply not be able to operate at high capacity throughout lockdown and this demand undermines the Government’s public health message that everyone should stay at home unless absolutely necessary.

“The funding that early years providers will lose due to low attendance and staffing pressures during lockdown will force many to close their doors forever, which would be a devastating outcome for working families, our economy and the life chances of the next generation.

“The Government must rethink these early years funding changes before it is too late.”