Coronavirus: Work warns of ‘perfect storm’ for working parents

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A “perfect storm” of rising childcare costs and the shutdown of providers could make it “impossible” for some parents to return to work amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Labor Party says.

The party claims childcare costs in England have risen up to three times faster than wages since 2010.

And he calls on the government to “provide urgent targeted support” to the childcare sector.

The government said the sector had received “significant” support.

Nurseries, kindergartens and childminders have been authorized to open to all children since June 1 following the coronavirus lockdown.

And as part of easing the lockdown restrictions, the government has said that people who can no longer need to work from home.

However, the Labor Party warns that many parents will find it difficult to return to their workplaces without childcare, especially if families cannot rely on grandparents for help due to the virus .

He says “long-term underfunding and lack of targeted support during the coronavirus pandemic will make it impossible for many suppliers to remain viable.”

The party points to research by the Early Years Alliance – the nursery industry body – which found that 25% of childcare providers in England are at risk of shutting down next year.

Last month, the alliance also released data suggesting that since the reopening of nurseries were only operating at 37% of their capacity, creating financial pressure on providers.

Labor shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said: “Ordering parents to return to work without allowing them access to the child care services they need is a stark reminder that Boris Johnson is completely disconnected from the needs of working families. “

“We don’t want to let our families down”

Clare Matthews runs Sunny Days Nursery School in West Molesey, Surrey, with her husband Richard.

The venture was successful, but when the lockdown hit the couple couldn’t afford to remain open to the children of key workers.

“All providers have to make tough decisions about maintaining their nurseries and just getting out of it,” she says.

“Parents really supported us when we gave them our reasons and they trusted us, but they think we have government support, and the money just isn’t there. ”

Clare says the only coronavirus-related program Sunny Days qualified for was business-rate vacations, and when they applied for more funding from their local council, they were turned down and told to “come back when it comes to critical time ”.

She says, “It’s really stressful. We don’t want to let our families down, we want our children to come back and we want to do it safely. ”

Parents want to return to the nursery in September, when it plans to reopen, but Clare said some are “afraid” of what the future might hold for them.

“I got a call from a parent today who is really worried because his employer” suggested “his job would be in danger if he didn’t sort out his babysitting next month,” he said. she declared.

“We’re very strong and have good contingency plans in place, but I see good nurseries closing every week and there are people at panic stations.

Clare wants the government to not just think of short-term solutions for the sector, but to “think” and consider a long-term turnaround plan to increase funding for early childhood care.

“Everyone is trying to make sure they can provide child care, but government and ministers need to recognize the issues and listen,” she said.

“If the government doesn’t put support in place quickly, I think there will be a lot more closures to come. “

Meanwhile, a senior Labor MP has raised concerns about options for those coming to the end of their maternity or paternity leave.

Catherine McKinnell, chair of the Commons Petitions Committee, said some parents face “a terrible dilemma of having to prepare to return to work … at a time when it is nearly impossible to find suitable child care.”

“Our investigation found that some parents even had to give up their jobs because there was no financially viable way to extend their leave,” she said.

She also expressed her disappointment that the government did not respond to her committee’s report on the subject.

In a letter, Business Secretary Paul Scully said a response to the report had not been issued prior to the suspension due to the need for “careful consideration of recommendations” and discussions with counterparts in the country. ‘other ministries.

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Media captionCoronavirus: should maternity and paternity leave be extended?

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association charity, said more funding was needed because the situation was “clearly not sustainable.”

“Since the lockdown, nurseries have also had to absorb additional operating costs such as installing more handwashing and additional cleaning stations, but as costs have risen their income has fallen due to the low number of children, ”she said.

“The government has given most local authorities an extra 8 pence this year per hour per child, but that won’t even cover inflation, let alone take into account higher minimum and living wage increases. to inflation. ”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said early childhood providers would receive £ 3.6 billion in funding as early as next year for free early childhood education and child care places. children.

“We continue to provide additional security to crèches and child care centers that are open by bulk purchasing child care spaces for the rest of the year at the level we would have funded before the coronavirus – regardless of how many ‘kids dating,’ she said.

In Scotland, the government has had to delay implementing its pledge to provide free early childhood care due to the coronavirus – something Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon said “deeply” regrets.

A £ 10.5million fund to help childcare providers reopen after the lockdown has been set up in Northern Ireland.

And in Wales, the government has said it has released £ 2.6million to care for the children of key workers.

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