To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the survey by the Early Years Alliance, published on 30 October, finding that one in six early years providers could close by Christmas 2020 without additional funding; and what steps they are taking to provide additional income to nurseries and childminders.
The government recognises the importance of supporting the early years sector financially during the COVID-19 outbreak.
We note the information provided by the Early Years Alliance and have used it in recent discussions with HM Treasury.
Data published on 26 October, in the latest parent survey by Ipsos MORI, shows that in September 94% of parents whose child received formal childcare, before the COVID-19 outbreak, were either using formal childcare now, or were intending to return their child to formal childcare, if they could, by January 2021.
Attendance data on early years shows that children’s attendance at the majority of nurseries, preschools and childminders is starting to climb back to pre-COVID-19 levels (an estimated 770,000 children attended early years settings on 22 October, compared with 417,000 at the end of the summer term).
Nurseries, preschools and childminders have received significant financial support over the past months and will benefit from a planned £3.6 billion funding package in financial year 2020-21 for free early education and childcare places.
We are providing extra stability and reassurance to settings that are open by ‘block-buying’ childcare places for the rest of this year at the level we would have funded before the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of how many children are attending. This will give nurseries and childminders another term of secure income.
In addition to this, the government has provided a package of support for individuals and businesses which are directly benefitting providers of childcare. This includes business rates relief and grants, the extended Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Job Retention Bonus and the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will remain open until December, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500.
Further, business premises forced to close in England are to receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Also, £1.1 billion is being given to local authorities, distributed on the basis of £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses more broadly.
We continue to work closely with both local authorities and the early years sector organisations to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the sector.