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Petition Grant wraparound and holiday care providers urgent financial support

Despite the vital role the wraparound and holiday care sector plays in caring for children outside of school hours, it has been forgotten by the Government and received no direct financial support. The sector requires emergency funding to retain staff and keep services open.

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Without urgent action, these services are at imminent risk of closure which would immediately remove much needed childcare support for hundreds of thousands of children from vulnerable and key worker families as well as other hard working families all around the country. Children will also be without their much-loved clubs that support learning and development, social skills, mental health and sporting activity which reduces childhood obesity.

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Government responded

This response was given on 15 February 2021

The Government has made a range of financial support available for businesses, including wraparound providers. This includes loans, cash grants, tax relief, and local authority discretionary funding.

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The Government recognises the important role wraparound care providers play in providing enriching activities to children and young people that promote their wellbeing; and, in particular, the valuable support they provide to vulnerable children, as well as to parents and carers, in terms of supporting their childcare needs.  Ensuring sufficient childcare for families continues to remain a government priority. This is why we have ensured these settings have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic, for all children eligible to attend school for on-site provision.

We appreciate that the wraparound childcare sector, like many sectors, is facing unprecedented financial pressures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is for this reason the Government has made a range of financial packages of support available for businesses to access throughout the current crisis. This includes tax relief, business loans or cash grants through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and the Self-Employed Support Scheme, as well as a £594 million discretionary fund for councils and the Devolved Administrations to support local businesses that may not be eligible for other support, during the current national lockdown.

Given the value this sector offers to our children and young people, the Department for Education (DfE) have encouraged all local authorities to consider using local grants, that have been made available to them by government, to support childcare providers who may be financially struggling in their local areas, and to safeguard sufficient childcare provision for children of critical workers and vulnerable children. This includes the discretionary funding, mentioned above, as well as funding streams such as the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme. The expanded HAF programme, which comprises a £220 million fund to be delivered through grants to local authorities, will be expanded to reach all local authority areas in England over the Easter, summer, and Christmas holidays in 2021.

Since the start of the pandemic, the DfE has also been in close communication with various stakeholders, including several wraparound providers, to understand the specific challenges that they are facing as a result of COVID-19, and to understand the impacts the protective measures have on sufficiency of childcare provision. However, to better understand the impact that COVID-19 has posed to the wider wraparound sector, the DfE has recently launched a survey to a sample of Ofsted-registered wraparound providers. This was issued on 26 January to up to 2,000 providers nationwide. The objectives of this survey are to gain a better understanding of how providers of wraparound childcare have been affected by the national COVID-19 (coronavirus) restrictions, in particular the most recent lockdown announced on 4 January 2020, and what this means for the provision they are currently offering.

As part of surveys to parents, the DfE has also queried the use of, and availability of, wraparound / holiday provision to support parents’ childcare needs. This has helped us to better understand the present demand for wraparound childcare, given the greater access to flexible working hours some parents have.

In addition, DfE’s REACT teams, comprising education and social care staff from both DfE and Ofsted, are also working closely with Local Authorities and will act as a valuable source of intelligence on the sufficiency of wraparound childcare places in local areas.

The collection of this data and local intelligence, alongside the DfE’s ongoing communication with sector stakeholders will help inform the governments ongoing response to the pandemic and how we may continue to best support the sector going forward.

Department for Education

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