To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the level of funding support available to the wraparound care sector on the ability of businesses within that sector to remain financially viable during the covid-19 outbreak.
29 January 2021
We recognise that the wraparound childcare sector, like many sectors, is facing unprecedented financial pressures as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is for this reason that 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 Income 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.
While the department does not hold a central register of all wraparound provision and is therefore not able to give an assessment on the closure of providers, we do however recognise the value this sector offers to our children and young people, in terms of the enriching activities they provide and the valuable support they provide to our critical worker parents, and vulnerable children. That is why we have encouraged all local authorities to consider what local grants could be used to bolster this part of the childcare sector in their areas to safeguard sufficient childcare provision for children of critical workers and vulnerable children. This includes discretionary funding, such as the £594 million fund provided by government to local authorities to help them support local businesses, as well funding streams such as the Holiday Activities and Food Programme. The expanded programme, which comprises a £220 million fund to be delivered through grants to local authorities, will be expanded to reach all local authority areas over the Easter, summer, and Christmas holidays in 2021.
We are also acutely aware of the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on young people and the vital role our childcare and youth services play. That is why more than £60 million of the unprecedented £750 million package for the voluntary and charity sector has been directed towards organisations supporting children and young people. More recently a £16.5 million youth COVID-19 support fund has been announced, which will protect the immediate future of grassroots and national youth organisations across the country. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-165-million-youth-covid-19-support-fund. This is on top of £200 million government investment in early intervention and prevention support initiatives to support children and young people at risk of exploitation and involvement in serious violence, through the Youth Endowment Fund.
In addition, the Youth Investment Fund remains a manifesto commitment for transformative levelling up across the country over the course of the parliament. In the recently announced Spending Review, £30 million of this was committed as capital investment for financial year 2021-22. This will provide a transformational investment in new and refurbished safe spaces for young people, so they can access support youth workers, and positive activities out of school, including sport and culture.