Grants scheme set up to support Oldham childcare providers

A grants scheme has been set up to support Oldham nurseries and childminders as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic risks many closing for good.

The council has agreed to offer financial support to early years and childcare businesses to help keep them sustainable as lockdown is lifted.

For the first nine weeks of lockdown 66 pc of providers of childcare in the borough were completely closed, with the remainder open only to ‘very limited numbers of children’.

A report by officer Jenny Dennis states: “To take no action could see local childcare businesses that supply essential services to children and families across Oldham at risk of closure.

“This in turn presents significant threat to the recovery of the local economy.”

The grants, signed off by new cabinet member for children’s services, Coun Eddies Moores, include a one-off payment to premises that opened on June 1.

This was to cover the addition costs of social distancing and infection control measures, including space dividers, storage for toys, increased hand washing, personal protective equipment, cleaning and replacement toys.

Initially this was set as up to £1,000 before June 1 for group settings, and reduced down to £500 after that date.

For childminders it was £400 before the beginning of June and now stands at £200.

Bosses say they expected the take up of the funding to be in the region of £60k.

A ‘mid-term’ sustainability grant will also be offered, to ‘provide some assurance’ about the supply of childcare beyond September.

It will be available to providers who have already accessed all the government support they are eligible for and can still demonstrate that ‘their business is at risk of closure without the injection of further funds’.

There will be no ceiling cap on the amount of cash being offered, rather the amount will be ‘bespoke’ depending on each businesses recovery plans, and evidence of how they plan to break even.

The council is planning on billing the take up of the grants back to the government against its COVID-19 support funding.

However, officers warn that it is anticipated that the total costs and loss of income arising from the pandemic will ‘significantly exceed’ the funding that has been made available.

As a result the cost of providing the support to childcare providers may have to be born by the council’s own education and early years department.

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