Last reviewed 11 September 2020

The Government has responded to a report from the Petitions Committee on the impact of Covid-19 on maternity and parental leave which recommended reviewing childcare provision and funding for the early years sector.

The committee’s report was the result of an intensive inquiry, following an e-petition that received over 226,000 signatures. It made several recommendations to the Government on supporting new parents, including extending parental leave and pay for families by three months during the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuring that the childcare sector has sufficient funding to provide the care needed for parents to return to work, both in the short- and long-term.

However, in its response the Government dismissed the proposals for extended paid parental leave entitlements and outlined the support it had already given the childcare sector, including access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and funding. It also stated that an independent review was not needed.

The Petitions Committee has now said that it is pushing for a Parliamentary debate on this issue as soon as possible so that MPs from all parties can put their concerns directly to the Government on behalf of petitioners.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said:

“It is extremely disappointing but sadly not surprising that the Government will not take on board the Petitions Committee’s recommendations pertaining to the childcare sector.”

“For childcare businesses, sustainability is still a huge issue as their income is low while their costs have risen. NDNA has been calling on the Government for weeks now to recognise this particular challenge for nurseries, many of which remained open during lockdown to support key workers. This petition has been signed by 226,000 people and it is extremely disappointing that they just have not been listened to.”

“Not only is childcare vital for children’s development, it’s also fundamental for the economic recovery as parents return to their workplaces. We will continue to campaign for a recovery and transformation fund for the sector which otherwise could see mass nursery closures, with 71% expecting to make a loss for the next few months. In the long term, Ministers also need to recognise that inadequate funding rates for childcare places must be addressed.”

The full Government response is available here.