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Coronavirus: Anger over Government cut to furlough funding for nurseries

Coronavirus: Anger over Government cut to furlough funding for nurseries

Published by May Norman at 6:04am 7th May 2020.

Frustration over government u-turn on childcare staff included in furlough scheme

  • The managing director of nurseries in Knaresborough, Wetherby and Boston Spa is shocked and angry over new guidance by the government that childcare providers cannot use the furlough scheme.
  • Instead, ministers state nurseries receiving early years entitlement funding should use this for staffing costs instead.
  • But Jill Johnson from Twinkles Nursery Group says that money is used for overheads and not wages.

The managing director of nurseries in Knaresborough, Boston Spa and Wetherby is calling for the Government to reinstate full furlough funding.

It's after a previous commitment to pay early years staff under the coronavirus job retention scheme has changed since the scheme was initially announced.

Jill Johnson - who runs the Twinkles Nursery Group - is shocked and frustrated as the so-called u-turn:

"It's really a kick in the teeth for the simple reason that we have already furloughed a number of staff on the previous advice, saying we could access both systems and schemes.

"The government is now saying we are double funded for these staff members - which is totally untrue.

"We are actually in deficit - we don't make any money from the funded places what so ever.

"It's been very difficult to work out who we can claim for and who we can't. 

"For many companies, it's pretty tragic."

Childcare

The new guidance announced by the government states that childcare providers cannot use the furlough scheme as well as claim the funding for three and four-year-olds and disadvantaged two-year-olds.

Ministers are expecting nurseries receiving early years entitlement funding to use this for staff costs and ‘not furlough them’.

The government had issued earlier guidance which led nurseries to assume they could access both the schemes but it has now clarified this with updated guidance.

Jill says it could have devastating effects on the future of local childcare provision:

"We don't have any income from private families - unless we've got a few key worker families coming in - so pretty much of all of our income has been lost.

There will be many and many nurseries who won't survive this period of closure as they won't be able to afford to keep their overheads running."

Children playing at a nursery

There are fears nurseries that have stayed open for key workers fear they may now have to close. 

Over the weekend more than 160,000 people have signed a petition against the last-minute reduction in support.

It's believed thousands of providers and parents have written to their local MP on this issue.

A spokesperson from the Department for Education 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.

"We have set out further clarity on other support available, including eligibility for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where an employer receives government funding.”