Keir Starmer says parents left in ‘impossible position’ by lack of childcare amid coronavirus back-to-work push
The Labour leader said parents had been handed ‘a back-to-work notice on Friday just as the summer holidays began’. (Image: PA)
Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of putting parents in an “impossible position” by asking them to return to work without adequate childcare support.
The Labour leader, who is visiting a school in Coventry on Monday, said the Prime Minister was “penalising parents” by urging the country to return to workplaces during the summer holidays without putting extra help in place.
Mr Johnson on Friday overhauled the Government’s back-to-work guidance, telling employers they should begin conversations with their staff from August 1 about a safe return to the office.
It comes amid fears that mass working from home will exacerbate the economic crisis facing the retail and hospitality industry.
The Government has already pledged £9m to provide school meals and summer activities for children.
Meanwhile parents in England are already offered 30 hours of free childcare.
But Labour say that cash will help just 50,000 young people, while commercial summer activity providers have been forced to cancel many of their 2020 programmes and early years providers are at risk of going to the wall.
Sir Keir warned: “We all want society to get moving again, but it requires a clear plan and national leadership from the government.
“Despite ordering millions of parents back to the office, the Prime Minister has refused to provide any extra help for families, penalising parents by putting them in an impossible position.”
And the Labour leader added: “Parents got a back-to-work notice on Friday just as the summer holidays began. But they got no support for structured activities, no summer catch-up schemes, and no support for a childcare sector on its knees.
“If we are going to reopen our society and economy safely and successfully, we need the public to have confidence in the government’s advice, we need test, track and trace to be working properly, and we need proper support for children to learn and for parents to get back to work.”
Labour’s call has been welcomed by industry group the Early Years Alliance, with chief executive Neil Leitch saying: “If the Government is serious about supporting parents and rebooting the economy, it cannot afford to sit by and watch thousands more childcare providers go out of business.