Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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What the Petitions Committee is doing

Petition Make nurseries exempt from business rates to support the childcare sector

After owning nurseries for 29 years I have never experienced such damaging times for the sector with rising costs not being met by the funding rates available. Business Rates are a large drain on the sector and can mean the difference between nurseries being able to stay open and having to close.

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Early years education has endured more than enough hardship, closures, job losses by the government letting us down by not supporting the industry in the way it should be. The Government is putting money into early years through funded hours – which doesn’t cover costs – but then takes this back through business rates. This system needs changing. Private and voluntary run nurseries are being slaughtered. It’s enough now.

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Government responded

This response was given on 2 April 2020

Nurseries in England will pay no business rates this year.

In response to COVID-19, on 18 March the Chancellor announced that non-local authority providers of childcare in England will benefit from a business rates holiday for one year from 1 April.

Properties that will be eligible for the holiday will be those occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday for nurseries is available online here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-nursery-childcare-discount-2020-to-2021-coronavirus-response-local-authority-guidance

Any queries should be directed to the relevant local authority. Local authorities will be fully compensated for the cost of this measure. Business rates are devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

HM Treasury

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Other parliamentary business

Petitions Committee to put concerns about impact of lockdown on parents and babies to the Government

The Petitions Committee will be questioning the Government on the impact of coronavirus on those on parental leave in an upcoming online evidence session. More details will be announced shortly.

This session continues the Committee’s ongoing inquiry into the Government’s response to Coronavirus. The Committee’s questions to the Government have been informed by unprecedented levels of engagement from petitioners and other members of the public on this issue, particularly the impacts on maternal mental health, childcare and maternity leave. Thousands of petitioners have completed our surveys which have helped the Committee to understand the issues petitioners are facing, and it is very grateful for everyone’s contributions.

One of our surveys, which received over 12,000 responses, found that 78% of respondents have been unable to find and secure suitable childcare to allow them to return to work. 81% told us they were considering delaying their return to work as a result, with 80% of these being offered no options at all to extend their leave by their employer. Many of you reported using your annual leave allowance to delay your return, but some noted this would prevent them taking any further holiday once lockdown conditions had been lifted.

You can read a summary of what petitioners told us about their experiences here: https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/5350/default/.

A separate survey found that less than 3% of nurseries felt they would be able to reopen with the same capacity as before, with nearly 7% believing they would not be able to reopen at all in light of the current coronavirus crisis. In the survey, which was sent to childcare providers and employees who had signed relevant petitions, over 70% of providers said they either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the UK Government’s plans to reopen from 1 June.

This information helped the Committee when questioning experts on the impact of lockdown on maternal mental health, access to childcare, and maternity pay on 21 May. You can watch this session and read the transcript here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146495/petitions-committee-questioned-experts-on-maternal-mental-health-adoption-and-childcare/

These recent surveys were used to dig deeper into issues first raised in the Committee’s evidence session on the extension of maternity leave on 7 May. Ahead of that session, the Committee had received over 27,000 responses to a survey of petitioners, and over 25,000 responses to a Facebook post- a record for the House of Commons Facebook page. You can find more information about the first session here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146332/petitions-committee-investigate-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-students-and-on-maternity-leave/

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP said:

“The Petitions Committee has seen unprecedented levels of engagement on maternal mental health, childcare and maternity leave with tens of thousands of people sharing their views and concerns. The Coronavirus is having a huge impact on families in many different ways and hearing personal stories and feedback is informing our inquiry and allowing us to better understand why people are signing these petitions.

“The evidence we collect drives the direction of our inquiries and ensures that we are challenging the Government on these issues effectively. We will be holding our next evidence session on this topic later this month, where we will question Government Ministers and hold them to account on this very issue.

“The Petitions Committee is determined to continue to investigate the impact COVID-19 is having on all communities. As Members of Parliament, we will continue to collect evidence, press for answers, and scrutinise the Government’s response as our country continues to fight this pandemic.”

What is the Petitions Committee?
The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that considers e-petitions submitted on Parliament’s petitions website and public (paper) petitions presented to the House of Commons.
It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter
@HoCpetitions or on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Find out more about how petitions work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGEOraE08Jk&feature=youtu.be

Petitions Committee to hold evidence session to examine parental leave and maternal mental health

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) have scheduled a virtual evidence session on Thursday 21 May at 9.30am on the urgent crisis of maternal mental health in lockdown and the impact of the virus on access to childcare. It will also look at the impact on adoption leave.

Watch the session live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqMKtR-pt0A

Ahead of the session, the Committee asked petitioners to share their experiences on childcare and returning to work. Thank you to all of those who completed the surveys. Your feedback will help inform the Committee's ongoing work on this subject.

On Thursday the Committee will hear from:

  • Alain Gregoire, Chair, Maternal Mental Health Alliance

  • Dr Trudi Seneviratne OBE, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Faculty of Perinatal Psychiatry

  • Josie Anderson, Campaigns and Policy Manager, Bliss

  • Sue Armstrong Brown, Chief Executive, Adoption UK

  • Neil Leitch, Chief Executive, Early Years Alliance

The Committee has also received written evidence on this issue from organisations and individuals. You can read them here: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/192/the-governments-response-to-coronavirus/publications/written-evidence/

What is the Petitions Committee?

The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that considers e-petitions submitted on Parliament’s petitions website and public (paper) petitions presented to the House of Commons. It is independent of the Government.

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter

@HoCpetitions or on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Find out more about how petitions work:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGEOraE08Jk&feature=youtu.be

Share your experiences and concerns about childcare and the coronavirus outbreak

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) has been looking into the impact of coronavirus on maternity leave, and heard concerns from many parents about finding childcare.

They’d like to hear more about how the outbreak has affected both childcare providers and parents.

If you are a childcare provider, or work for a nursery, please share your views and experiences via this short survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/QG8YPT/

If you are a parent currently on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave, please share your views and experiences via this survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/CHRADM/

They’d like to hear from you ideally by Monday 18 May 2020. Your answers will help them to understand the issues people are facing and what questions MPs need to ask the Government. They might publish some or all of your responses, or read them out when they’re asking questions in a public Committee meeting or in the House of Commons. So please don’t share any personal information that you don’t want to be public.

The Committee will be questioning a number of witnesses in the coming weeks, including representatives of childcare providers. We'll email you again to let you know more information and how you can watch the sessions. 

What is the Petitions Committee?

The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that considers e-petitions submitted on Parliament’s petitions website and public (paper) petitions presented to the House of Commons. It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter
@HoCpetitions or on their
website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Find out more about how petitions work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGEOraE08Jk&feature=youtu.be

MPs investigate the economic impact of coronavirus

A cross-party group of MPs called the Treasury Committee are investigating the economic impact of coronavirus, including business rate holidays.

You can find out more on the Treasury Committee's webpage: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/224/economic-impact-of-coronavirus/

You can follow the Treasury Committee on Twitter for updates: @CommonsTreasury

What is the Treasury Committee?

The Treasury Committee looks at and questions how the Treasury:

  • is run
  • spends money
  • decides on its policies

It's a cross-party committee of MPs and is independent of the Government.

You can find out more about the Treasury Committee on its website: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/treasury-committee/

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Further Information

You may also be interested to know that because of the large number of petitions that have been started in relation to coronavirus, the Petitions Committee has been questioning the Government about its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Find out more and watch the Committee put questions suggested by petitioners to Government Ministers and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/145767/committee-question-deputy-chief-medical-officer-and-ministers-on-coronavirus-response/

Read letters asking further questions of Government Ministers: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/publications/3/correspondence/

You can read impartial analysis of the Government response to coronavirus and policy developments here:
https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/coronavirus/

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