Labour Cabinet Member for Children’s Services Adam Wilkinson has called for more support for local nurseries, as new government data shows that attendance in early years settings was down by 50 per cent last week. And he has criticised government plans which will see nurseries and childcare providers lose funding for each child that does not attend during lockdown.
Many families are choosing not to use early years settings due to the government’s ‘Stay at Home’ message, and parents who are furloughed are also keeping children at home. Yet Ministers are pressing ahead with changes to a funding formula for childcare providers which is based on current attendance.
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 Party analysis shows that this could result in nearly 19,000 early years providers closing before summer.
With some nurseries struggling to stay open due to safety or staffing concerns, and evidence that parents are keeping children at home in lockdown, the impact of these funding changes is now likely to be significantly worse. Providers that are forced to close during the lockdown will be especially hard hit.
“Early years staff have played a critical role providing childcare throughout this pandemic and enabling key workers to carry out their jobs. But our local nurseries and childminders have now been put in an impossible position during this lockdown”, Cllr Adam Wilkinson explained.
“We need an urgent plan from the government on how they will support the Early Years sector through the pandemic, and this should start with a rethink of their funding changes that will push thousands of early years providers to the brink of collapse.”