CALLS have been made for urgent financial support for childcare providers. Many childcare businesses in Fermanagh have closed temporarily. Some have placed staff off work for several weeks on a coronavirus job retention scheme which allows employers to apply for government support to cover 80 percent of their usual monthly wage. While staff have been placed on this scheme, or others, some have expressed concern about when they will receive pay after waiting for weeks with no wage package.
Councillor Adam Gannon, pictured right, said, “I have had people contacting me who say they haven’t been paid and they have been told that the employer is waiting on government support of some sort because they don’t have the money to pay them as there is no income as people have taken their children out of childcare at the minute, which is the right thing to do according to government advice.”
Cllr Gannon added, “Some child care businesses had been in touch with me to say that if they don’t get some sort of support soon then they may have to close permanently when this is all over.” Across the board staff are believed to be worried. “I would say there are worries, in the short term if they are able to pay their bills and in the long term concern, thinking will there be a job in the future if this goes on, or will they have to get another job if the nursery or creche is unable to pay them.
“If they do that, then they are out of the sector and we are looking at a reduced number of childcare providers. It is hard enough to get childcare and if we have a reduced number in the future that will have a negative impact on people going back to work.”
Seeking an update on support measures Cllr Gannon has written to the Education Minister to request an update on plans to provide a package of support for child minders and childcare providers which was set out in a joint statement between the Education and Health Ministers on 9 April. “I’ve asked for a timeframe so these childcare providers can provide for the future. I also asked specifically that in that financial package support is provided to nurseries and crèches to keep them afloat as they are not eligible to certain government schemes at the minute.”
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