Nurseries need government investment to fund fair wages

Staff working in day nurseries are unlikely to be paid a “fair” wage unless the government invests more heavily in the sector, child care charities have warned.

The warnings came in response to the announcement that the Inland Revenue is starting a year-long campaign against nurseries that did not pay the minimum wage.

National Day Nursery Association chief executive Purnima Tanuku nurseries relied on parents’ fees as their main source of income and that 80% of that money was used to pay wages. Parents could not afford to pay more for their child care so nurseries were unable to fund the cost of salary increases by raising fees.

“Many nurseries would love to pay salaries well above the minimum wage but this is financially unrealistic,” Tanuku said. “We fear that unless help is given to providers, they will become unsustainable leading to the closure of high quality care and decreased choice for parents,” she added.

The National Childminding Association welcomed the move to tackle low-paying employers, but said that was only part of the solution.

It wants the government to invest in the child care workforce, including home-based child carers, through training and development and improved career groups. The NCMA said it was crucial that childminders are afforded the same level of support to ensure the workforce meets the needs of children and their families.

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