With pupils across England returning to school this week, new Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) research shows that close to a quarter (23%) of small firms believe that the reopening of schools and nurseries, as well as the availability of childminders and nannies, will have an impact on their ability to reopen safely.
Commenting on the finding, FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “Many of the 16 million people who work in a small business across the UK have childcare responsibilities.
“That’s why the safe return of pupils to schools is critical to getting our small firms firing on all cylinders again – running a business during a severe recession with kids at home is no mean feat. And of course we need to get back to developing the apprentices, graduates and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
“Equally, there are firms that rely directly on footfall linked to schools. We’d urge all of those who are returning to classrooms this week to be considerate and patient when visiting small firms before, during or after the school day.
“There are many within the small business community with children who are not yet of school age.
“Small firms within our childcare sector were already up against a plethora of challenges before coronavirus hit. The pandemic has made a bad situation worse, with cashflow all but evaporating for months at many pre-school providers.
“To add insult to injury, there was a huge amount of confusion regarding eligibility for furlough and 30-hour free funding around the time of the initial national lockdown, meaning extra uncertainty for nurseries.
“The Government must do more to protect the futures of our vital childcare providers. Ensuring that funding for the 30-hour free pledge is genuinely adequate and making permanent the current business rates exemption for nurseries – a step already taken in Scotland – would be good places to start.”
Schools returned in Scotland two weeks ago, while Wales and Northern Ireland schools start their new tern this week also.