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Coronavirus: Labour say parents cannot get back to work without ‘proper plan’ to save nurseries on the brink

Labour have called for extra funding

2 min read

Labour have warned the UK's economic recovery could be set back unless emergency funding is provided to help nurseries and childcare providers hit by the coronavirus crisis.

Shadow education minister Tulip Siddiq has urged ministers to provide extra funding to nurseries as she warned mass closures could lead to parents losing their jobs due to a lack of childcare.

It comes amid warnings that pre-schools, nurseries and childminders could shut their doors permanently as a result of the pandemic.

Speaking ahead of a visit to a nursery on Thursday, Ms Siddiq said the sector needed extra funding after being "excluded" from recent Government support packages.

"Childcare is absolutely essential for working parents and to our economic recovery from coronavirus," the Labour frontbencher said.

"But it has been ignored by the Government in this crisis, with the early years sector consistently excluded from support packages.

"We are already losing hundreds of nurseries and childminders every month before this crisis hit due to years of underfunding.

"We can't afford for any more to close, but that is precisely what will happen unless the Government targets support properly on sectors like childcare.

"It's time for Ministers to get serious about supporting families in this pandemic and step in with a proper plan to save the childcare sector."

Early years providers were asked to begin welcoming children back from June 1 after months of lockdown.

But the latest DfE figures show that, as of July 9, just 414,000 children were attending – around 25% of the usual number.

Research published by the Sutton Trust think tank earlier this month warned that a third of all nurseries in the UK’s most deprived areas could shut down forever because of the financial toll of the coronavirus crisis.

The study found that 34% of all nursery providers in the country’s poorest areas are “unlikely to still be operating next year”.

That compares to 24% for the least deprived areas, with the group that the crisis would only “deepen existing patterns of vulnerability and under-achievement” — and could see poorer children drop “off the radar”.

The Department of Education has been approached for comment.

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