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Gloucestershire Business News

C​hildminders forced to work for free during coronavirus crisis

A quarter of childminders able to work are working at a reduced rate or offering their services for free during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Childcare platform, Yoopies published the findings in its ​Childcare During COVID-19 Report​, outlining the impact of the virus on 425 childcare providers including Ofsted-registered childminders, nannies (Ofsted and non-Ofsted registered) and self-employed babysitters.

There are over 300 registered childminders in Gloucestershire.

The report found that, since lockdown began, 50 per cent of childcare providers have had the opportunity to work. Of these, 89 per cent have worked for families in which either one or both parents were key workers. 

Childminders were the only childcare category in which over half of staff continued to work. They were the least likely group to be paid their full rate and are the only group to work for free to support families, while all Ofsted registered nannies that were able to work were paid at their full rate and 94 per cent of non-Ofsted registered nannies worked at their full rate or at a higher fee.

Childminders who do not look after keyworker children or who have closed due to safety risks were less likely to be supported by the families they work for than nannies. Over two-thirds of families refuse to pay a partial retention fee to support their childminder while they can't work.

One childminder said: "On some days my net earnings are less than £1.70 per hour. This includes the early starts and late finishes that a nurse would work, however, we remain the forgotten workforce."

Another told Yoopies she felt financially obliged to remain open, after realising she would not be eligible for the Self Employment Grant. She said: "I feel scared, I'm putting my family at risk every day to help NHS staff save lives. If I don't work for keyworkers' children, I would have no money as I only started childminding in August last year. As my husband is still working, we can't claim Universal Credit."

Around 57 per cent of childcare providers are unable to access government financial support.

Another childminder said, "I'm working because if I don't, I know the NHS staff will have to stop working to care for their children. I also care for vulnerable children who would not be safe at home for 12 weeks.

"I am putting my family at risk and essentially not making any more money than if I closed and took the grant, but I know the work I am doing is 100 per cent needed by the families I have."

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