Thank you for contacting me about the impact of coronavirus on the early years sector and childcare.
This pandemic has been a difficult time for many people across Woking and Surrey, and I know that childcare providers have been put under unusual and significant pressures. As such, I am pleased that throughout the pandemic Ministers have taken significant steps to support childcare providers and the early years sector. A range of support has been made available, including a business rates holiday for one year and continuation of full funding until the end of 2020, despite lower attendance rates. Broader support schemes, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, have also been available to childcare providers.
For more information please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures#funding-and-business-support
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 4th January of new restrictions, including the closure of schools and colleges, I understand that some childcare providers have concerns about the safety of staying open.
The Government has stated that education settings are not unsafe for children or staff. The Government’s scientific advice has consistently shown that education workers are at no greater risk of contracting coronavirus compared to other key workers and other professions. There is also evidence that younger children are even less likely than their counterparts in primary and secondary schools to spread the virus.
It remains the case, too, of course that the work done already to implement protective measures in early years settings, such as increased cleaning and reducing 'pinch points', has created a safer environment for staff to work in. These measures also include avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms, frequent hand washing and good hygiene practices, and minimising contact and mixing by keeping children in small consistent groups.
However, I appreciate that some of my constituents continue to have concerns, and please be assured that I am raising these, where appropriate, in conversations with senior parliamentary and ministerial colleagues.
Thank you again for writing to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking