‘Crippled’ nurseries face ‘existential threat’ under furlough restrictions, warns Hampstead and Kilburn MP
- Credit: PA
Hundreds of “crippled” nurseries may be forced to close or lay off staff due to furlough restrictions, says Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq.
The Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years says “severe limitations” were imposed on Friday by the government for nursery funding during the coronavirus pandemic, three days prior to the launch of its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Earlier guidance stated nurseries could access this scheme, changes to which Tulip Siddiq MP said would have a “devastating” impact on Camden nurseries - some of which are already under threat.
Ms Siddiq said: “Early years providers were struggling before coronavirus, and many now face an existential threat from the loss of parents’ fees in this crisis.
“I understand that Ministers want to ensure businesses can’t profit from emergency support, but the funding that providers were led to believe they could access was a lifeline.
“The decision to restrict this funding nearly a month after it was promised in full will cripple nurseries, many of which have already been forced to close.”
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Hampstead and Kilburn’s MP called childcare the “fourth emergency service in this crisis” and said she was worried of the knock-on effect to parents and nurseries, some of whom had already expressed “serious concern”.
Ms Siddiq added: “I fear the result will be many valued childcare workers losing their jobs and more providers being forced to shut completely, and perhaps permanently.”
Last month, Camden parents marched to the Crowndale Centre against the planned closures of four nurseries.
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Camden Council’s education chief Angela Mason acknowledged the existing and now heightened squeeze on early years funding, saying: “The coronavirus pandemic is impacting all sectors of society and childcare providers, who have for some time have faced financial challenges, are no exception.
“A loss of income from fee paying parents will only cause further pressure on already stretched budgets.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have already confirmed that we will continue to fund councils for the free childcare entitlements for the duration of these closures, as we ask settings to remain open where needed for children of critical workers and most vulnerable.
“To support them with this we are relieving some of the burdens on staff during these challenging times, temporarily changing some of the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework and providing significant financial support, including a business rate holiday for many private providers.”
For more information visit www.camden.gov.uk/childrens-centres