Nurseries on verge of permanent closure as Government support comes to an end

Nurseries are in need of an urgent cash boostNurseries are in need of an urgent cash boost
Nurseries are in need of an urgent cash boost
Nurseries are in need of an urgent cash boost as their Government support has come to an end and many are on the verge of permanent closure.

Managers and owners of nurseries had been hoping for an extension to the scheme which funded nurseries based on their “normal” occupancy levels in the autumn term of 2020.

However, no such support has been offered for the spring term, leaving many early years providers in the region in a tricky financial situation as they will only be funded based on the number of children actually attending nursery.

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Unlike other industries that have been forced to close, childcare has been required to stay open, even where that means running at a loss.

Toni Krajnik, who owns the Wise Owl chain of nurseries just outside Doncaster, said: “Things are worse now than earlier in the year because so many parents are furloughed again. Because of that and everybody staying at home, nobody wants childcare.

People are scared to send their kids to nursery at the moment and if they’re on furlough, they don’t have to, they can manage.”

Ms Krajnik’s nurseries are all currently in tier 3, and though some of her staff have needed to self-isolate because of alerts on their Test and Trace app, she has been “very lucky” to have had no positive cases.

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She said: “We have some staff furloughed at the moment, it’s been a fine balance to get to a breakeven point. It’s worse than it ever was. A lot of nurseries are struggling practically as it is because of Covid and trying to distance the children.

“It’s not practical to do bubbles in terms of the number of staff and children and some nurseries have had to close entirely because they have had a positive case.”

Department for Education (DfE) figures showed only 61 per cent of children were going to nursery, which was “lower than expected” according to the DfE’s childcare survey.

The survey, from December, also revealed that only 42 per cent of nurseries think they will be able to stay open.

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Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association, said: “The Secretary of State for Education appears not to care about the early years sector and is treating providers appallingly compared with schools.

“At every turn he is giving additional financial support to schools for staff absences, for cleaning products, for additional resources, but nothing for early years.

“Nurseries have been the fourth emergency service throughout this pandemic – supporting the development of children but also enabling key workers to do their job. Lose the nurseries and you lose a crucial part of economic infrastructure.

“This Government must put children first which means supporting those who support the children. Pulling the rug out from under the early years sector adds insult to injury.”