Coronavirus: Nursery will stay open but owner fears for its future

coronavirus nursery will stay open but owner fears for its future - Coronavirus: Nursery will stay open but owner fears for its futureImage copyright Laura Williams
Image caption Rocking Horse Nursery normally has 80 children on its books

A nursery owner has vowed to stay open “no matter what” to help key worker families, despite financial concerns.

Julie Davies said changes to coronavirus job retention rules meant she was unable to furlough some staff.

Around a quarter of children registered at Rocking Horse Nursery are from key worker families and still attend.

But because the government already pays some families’ fees, Ms Davies is disqualified from claiming 80% of wages during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The government says it would give financial support to early years providers “as required” including a business rates “holiday” of one year.

Ms Davies, who owns the nursery in the Kingswood area of Bristol, thought that meant she would be able to furlough some of her staff.

But changes put in place late last week meant that, as she was in receipt of government funding for two to four year olds, Rocking Horse would not be eligible for the coronavirus jobs retention scheme.

“It’s insulting, [and suggests] that we might make a profit out of the scheme,” she said.

“Let’s get real, early years is not highly paid; we want to support our parents who are part of our nursery family.”

This week Ms Davies said she had 12 out of a possible 22 children attending, and “was running at a loss”.

“The new policy… [means] I have to recall 11 staff from furlough and pay them 100% of their salaries, despite there being no work for them to do, and our usual income not being there to pay them,” she said

“I believe this will be repeated in nurseries across the country.’

But she vowed to stay open “no matter what”.

“If we don’t help key workers we can’t help wipe this nasty virus out.”

Ms Davies added while she had insurance for enforced closures, there was no guarantee of the level of payment and it “could take weeks or months… leaving us facing cash flow challenges.”

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