Should England follow Scotland and Ireland's plans to abolish council tax on nurseries?
We have invited previous contributors to the Parliamentary Review to comment upon political issues which they feel impact them. This week we asked Linda Symons, from Kidz Kabin Nurseries, to discuss the business rate charges which impact nurseries in England but have recently been revoked across the border.
In early 2017, the Scottish government used their devolved powers to exempt nurseries from business taxes from the following year. Holyrood finance secretary, Derek Makay, stated that “Scotland has always been a leader in education and childcare and this is the first relief of its kind anywhere in the UK.”
The removal of business rates is believed to have saved the industry around £8 million each year. The move was welcomed in the early years sector and was praised by Purnima Tanuku, who said “We congratulate the Scottish government for its progressive thinking regarding early years education.”
The following year saw the Welsh government follow suit, and from April 2019 nurseries there have been exempted from business rates.
The Welsh finance secretary, Mark Drakeford, said the move “will help to create new childcare jobs and help to create new and maintain existing childcare places across Wales.”
This sentiment was furthered by minister for children, Huw Irranca-Davies, who said “by providing enhanced support for the childcare sector, we will further improve access to childcare places, supporting working families across Wales and make it easier for people to take up and retain jobs.”
Linda Symons, of Kidz Kabin Nurseries told us:
“The UK government should follow Scotland's lead and abolish business rates for early years settings.
Many nurseries are struggling to provide 30 hours of "free" childcare especially as local authorities do not pay the fees that nurseries actually charge.
Many fall short by 33 per cent and nurseries struggle to make up the loss.
Since the government set up wrap around care in schools, many nurseries are losing children when they reach the age of three, whereas previously we could rely on most children of working parents staying until they started reception.
Furthermore, since educational establishments are zero rated for VAT, we should be allowed to claim back VAT on goods and services.
With increases in the minimum wage, pensions, rent and business rates - it is not surprising that so many nurseries struggle to survive.”