Thank you for contacting me about the impact of Coronavirus on childcare.
This pandemic has been a difficult time for us all, and I know childcare providers have been put under unusual pressures too. As such, I am pleased that throughout the pandemic Ministers have taken significant steps to support childcare providers. A range of support has been made available, including a business rates holiday for one year and continuation of full funding despite lower attendance rates. Broader support schemes, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, have also been available to childcare providers.
Following the announcement of a lockdown, which includes the closure of schools and colleges, I understand that childcare providers may have concerns about the safety of staying open.
Let me assure you that, as the Prime Minister has said, education settings are not unsafe for children or staff. Scientific advice has consistently shown that education workers are at no greater risk of contracting Covid-19 compared to other key workers and other professions. There is evidence that younger children are less likely than their counterparts in primary and secondary schools to spread the virus. It also remains the case 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 an inherently safer environment for staff to work in.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP