Closed petition Give UK nurseries emergency funding if they have to close down amid COVID-19

If nurseries are shut down in view of Covid-19, the Government should set up an emergency fund to ensure their survival and ensure that parents are not charged the full fee by the nurseries to keep children's places.

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Being without childcare and having to pay nursery fees is a great concern for parents with small children. Nursery-based care is already extremely expensive, especially for children up to the age of 3. To expect parents to pay these fees up front to keep a place at the time when there is no accessible childcare (and for many parents no paid work), is unrealistic. We also need these nurseries to survive. When this is over, parents want their children to return to their nurseries.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 25 June 2020

Government responded

This response was given on 14 April 2020

The Government has announced a comprehensive package of support for individuals and businesses which will directly benefit providers of childcare.

Read the response in full

Hard-working parents across the country rely on childcare to help them balance their home and work commitments. We can rightly be proud of our childcare sector. 96% of childcare settings in England are now rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, an increase from 74% in 2012.

During the current Coronavirus outbreak, the Government wants to support nurseries, pre-schools and childminders during what must be a worrying and uncertain time.

We have asked childcare providers to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

To help them do this, we have taken steps to directly support childcare providers in the current crisis.

We currently fund local authorities (LAs) to pay early education providers to offer up to 30 hours of early education per week, to qualifying families, for two, three and four-year-old children. We announced on 17 March that we will continue to pay this funding to LAs, which will provide reassurance for early years settings.

We have also put in place a significant package of financial support including a business rate holiday for many private providers and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to support workers. We expect nurseries to take a reasonable and proportionate approach to parents’ fees, in light of these unprecedented circumstances, and to communicate any arrangements clearly with them

Furthermore, childcare providers will benefit from the additional range of financial assistance measures we have introduced to support workers and businesses at this time.

We have announced that childcare providers will be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year. That means non-local authority providers of childcare (registered with Ofsted and providing EYFS) will pay no business rates in 2020 to 2021, from 1 April. This includes nurseries which are eligible for a charitable status relief – they will also pay no business rates at all in 2020-21 – and nurseries in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief will benefit from small business grant funding of £10,000 (we also know that some settings operate from shared spaces which may now benefit from a 100% rates relief – and we strongly encourage those shared spaces to reflect any business rates saving in their rent charges).

We have also set up schemes to help employees and the self-employed, during the outbreak – which will benefit both providers and parents. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means that for employees who are not working but kept on payroll, the Government will contribute 80% of each worker’s wages of up to £2,500, backdated to 1 March 2020. Businesses can access this scheme while continuing to be paid the early entitlements funding via local authorities. The self-employed may be eligible for taxable grants under the Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme, announced on 26 March.

We thank the nurseries and other childcare providers who are working so hard to care for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. This is a vital part of our fight against Coronavirus. In turn, we are working hard to mitigate the impacts of Coronavirus on all parts of our society. In the light of the steps we have already taken, we urge all childcare providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents, given the great uncertainty they will be facing too. We are keeping under very close review what further support individuals and businesses may require.

Further information relating to setting closures, plus the full range of support available for workers and businesses can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures#funding

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

Department for Education

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

Watch the Petitions Committee question the Government on maternity leave and pay on YouTube

Tomorrow, Thursday 11 June at 2.30pm, the Petitions Committee will question Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, Paul Scully MP.

Watch the session live:
YouTube: https://youtu.be/ljZyh73pKjE
Parliament TV: https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/5859f062-7772-40c3-83c5-055ae87df55d

Read the petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/306691

Find out more: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146749/petitions-committee-to-question-the-government-on-maternity-leave-and-pay-after-unprecedented-public-engagement/

Petitions Committee questions Government on its response to coronavirus

Last week the Petitions Committee put some of the most popular questions from the public about coronavirus to the Government Minister for Schools, the Minister for Disabled People and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. These included:

  • How long will schools be closed for and what will the impact be on exams and grades?
  • What financial support will be available for the self-employed?
  • What financial support will be offered to people who are unable to pay their rent or bills due to self-isolation or loss of work?
  • What support will be offered to the events, creative and hospitality industries now that pubs, clubs and cultural venues have been closed?
  • What clear, practical steps can people take to make sure they are following Government guidance on social distancing, household isolation and self-isolation?
  • Who is being tested and why, and will tests be made freely available to everyone?
  • What is the Government doing to ensure that everyone is getting the right information?

Watch the session on YouTube: https://youtu.be/aPLXJcZEfi8

Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/192/the-governments-response-to-coronavirus/publications/written-evidence/

Because of the large number of petitions that we continue to receive on coronavirus we have sent more questions to the Government to answer.

Read our letters to different Government Ministers: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/publications/3/correspondence/

Some of the questions we’ve asked include:

  • When will testing capacity will be increased; who will testing be available for and will it be free?
  • What is being done to tackle the spread of disinformation?
  • How quickly will support for self-employed people be made available?
  • What will happen to the school year? Will summer holidays be cancelled so that children can catch up?
  • How are foodbanks being supported to continue operating during the outbreak?
  • What is being done to address panic buying and prevent price hikes of key items?
  • Will trains, buses and flights continue to operate? For how long?

We’ll email you again to let you know when we get a response to these questions, and to let you know about any more action the Committee takes.

Who are we?

We are the House of Commons Petitions Committee. We are a cross-party group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk. We are independent from Government. You can find out more about us and our work on our website.

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions.

Further information

You can read impartial House of Commons Library information about coronavirus here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/coronavirus/

You can find out more about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself and others here:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

You can read NHS tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips

Petitions Committee Chair calls for urgent action from Government

Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP has written to a Government minister to implore the Government to recognise the urgency of the effect of COVID-19 on maternity leave and new parents, and to respond to the Committee’s recent landmark report on the critical issue ‘before it’s too late’.

Responding to the Government’s failure to respond to the report before Summer Recess, she urges the Minister to consider immediate action on several recommendations put forward by the Committee, and asks that the Government responds to the Committee’s report as soon as possible. The letter highlights that the issues raised in the Committee’s report have had a profound impact on parents now, with many being unable to wait until the autumn for a response.

Read the full letter here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/2249/documents/20688/default/

You can read the letter from Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/2186/documents/20153/default/

Petitions Committee report on ‘Impact of Covid-19 on maternity and paternal leave’ to be published

We will be publishing our report on the Impact of Covid-19 on maternity and paternal leave this Monday 6 July. This report is a result of our inquiry prompted by petitions on this issue, including the one you signed.

The report will set out the evidence we have heard from petitioners, experts, and Government Ministers, and will make recommendations on the actions we feel the Government needs to take to address the impact of Covid-19 on new and adoptive parents and their children, and the childcare sector.

We will update you again on Monday with a direct link to the report.

Petitions Committee report on ‘Impact of Covid-19 on maternity and paternal leave’ to be published

We have published our report on the Impact of Covid-19 on maternity and paternal leave. This report is a result of our inquiry prompted by petitions on this issue, including the one you signed.

The report sets out the evidence we have heard from petitioners, experts, and Government Ministers, and recommends a number of actions we feel the Government needs to take to address the impact of Covid-19 on new and adoptive parents and their children, and the childcare sector.

In the report we recognise the challenges faced by nurseries, and call for the Government to:
• Conduct an urgent short-term review of funding for the childcare sector to ensure that it survives the current crisis, and if required, provide emergency funding to the childcare sector to ensure that there are sufficient childcare places for parents due to return to work.
• Consider an independent review of childcare provision, including the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure that future Government funding is effective and that the sector is sustainable and works for all in the long term.

Read a summary of the report and our recommendations (5 min read, available from 8am): https://houseofcommons.shorthandstories.com/how-has-maternity-and-parental-leave-been-impacted-by-coronavirus-/index.html

Read the full report: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmpetitions/526/52602.htm

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 to debate petitions calling for support for UK industries in response to Covid-19

The Petitions Committee, which is the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system, has agreed to schedule a debate in the House of Commons Chamber on Thursday 25 June on petitions calling for support for UK industries in response to Covid-19.

The debate is being held in response to the huge number of petitions, including the one you signed, that call for the Government to provide support for UK industries in response to Covid-19.

The start time of the debate will depend on other parliamentary business, but you can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter @HoCpetitions, where we will post updates on when we expect the debate to start.

You will be able to watch the debate live here: https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/a7b6db44-6101-42c7-b2a0-32abd08b80ef

A transcript will be published the following day here: https://hansard.parliament.uk

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

Petitions Committee to question the Government on maternity leave and pay on Thursday 11 June

The Petitions Committee will hold a virtual evidence session on Thursday 11 June at 14:30 to question Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, Paul Scully MP.

Watch the session live here: https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/5859f062-7772-40c3-83c5-055ae87df55d

This session will see the Petitions Committee question the Minister on crucial issues regarding maternity leave and pay raised by petitioners and experts as the UK enters its 12th week since lockdown began. This is the latest in a series of sessions prompted by a petition calling on the Government to extend maternity leave by 3 months with pay in light of COVID-19, which has received over 224,000 signatures to date.

Read the petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/306691.

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, will lead the session, where Members of Parliament will put questions to the Minister on overarching issues raised by petitioners and experts since the start of the pandemic. This evidence will inform the Committee’s report on this issue, which will recommend actions the Government should take to address petitioners’ concerns.

Find out more: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146749/petitions-committee-to-question-the-government-on-maternity-leave-and-pay-after-unprecedented-public-engagement/

Update on Petitions Committee’s work on parental leave and covid-19

Last week, the Petitions Committee held its final oral evidence session, questioning Business Minister Paul Scully MP, on the impact of coronavirus on those on parental leave and the Government’s response to the petition.

You can watch the session here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljZyh73pKjE&feature=youtu.be
Find out more here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146749/petitions-committee-has-questioned-the-government-on-maternity-leave-and-pay-after-unprecedented-public-engagement/

The session came just two days after the Government’s decision to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) cut-off date for those returning from leave after 10 June, but as thousands of you have shared with the Committee through surveys or online posts there are still many challenges facing new parents, and many who have no options to extend their leave.

Read more about eligibility for the CJRS: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Next steps
The Committee will now produce a report, bringing together everything you have shared with us, the evidence of everyone who has appeared in virtual sessions, and the charities and support groups who have given written submissions.
The Committee will report its findings and make recommendations to the Government, who will then need to respond and decide whether and how to act on them.

The Committee understands the urgency of this issue for all of the parents who have signed this petition and engaged with the inquiry, and is working hard to publish this as soon as possible. You will receive another update as soon as the release date is confirmed.

In the meantime, you can contact your local MP to encourage them to put pressure on the Government on your behalf. Find their contact details here: https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP

Once again, the Committee would like to thank everyone who has shared their experiences. This information has been vital in informing the work of the Committee so far, and will directly inform our recommendations to the Government.

Petitions Committee disappointed that Government has failed to respond urgently to report

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP has criticised the Government for failing to meet the Committee’s request to respond urgently to its report on the impact of Covid-19 on maternity and parental leave, which was published earlier this month.

In a letter published on 29 July from Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, the Government stated that a response to the Report from his department would not be possible before the House rose for Summer Recess on 22 July due to the need for careful consideration of recommendations and for discussions with counterparts in other relevant departments.

You can read the letter here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/2186/documents/20153/default/

Read the Chair’s full comment here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/147629/petitions-committee-chair-disappointed-in-governments-failure-to-respond-urgently-to-report-on-the-impact-of-covid19-on-maternity-and-parental-leave/

Petitions Committee Chair challenges Prime Minister on Government response to maternity report

Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP has put petitioners' concerns to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Watch the session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv8SXHGIgWQ

Joining the Liaison Committee, a cross-party group of select committee Chairs, Ms McKinnell asked the Prime Minister about:

  • The Government's response to the Committee's report on the impact of Covid-19 on maternity and parental leave
  • The inclusion of children in new social distancing rules, and the implications for families and childcare settings
  • Access to Covid-19 testing

The Petitions Committee will be writing to the Prime Minister to follow-up on his commitment to consider the report's recommendations. The Committee plans to debate the report and the Government's response on 5 October in Westminster Hall.

Follow us on Twitter for updates on our work on these issues: https://www.twitter.com/hocpetitions