Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Childminders living in 'heightened anxiety dependent on goodwill of parents'

Childminders have asked the families they work for to continue paying fees, but in some cases have been met with refusal

CHILDMINDERS are living in "heightened anxiety" dependent on the goodwill of parents as they grapple with the intricacies of the chancellor's Covid-19 Self-employed Income Subsidy.

With thousands of children now withdrawn from their usual arrangements to ensure compliance with lockdown restrictions, registered childminders can only earn income if they are needed by key worker parents.

In the meantime, they must wait to be contacted by HM Revenue and Customs to begin an assessment for the British government to cover 80 per cent of their earnings for the next three months.

Research by childcare platform Yoopies found that 194,000 are new self-employed workers in the last tax year and may miss out on payment altogether.

Those not eligible are facing delays in payment for Universal Credit, with one childminder reporting she will not get her first payment until April 27.

"I'm grateful for the £94 a week, but considering I have no income, it won't get me far."

Other families are excluded because their partner earns more than £16,000 a year.

Childminders have asked the families they work for to continue paying fees, but in some cases have been met with refusal.

"Parents hear we are receiving 80 per cent, which immediately puts them off wanting to pay me," one said.

"However, the government figure is generated by net profit, and 50 per cent of this will go on unavoidable expenses and other bills, leaving me with very little."

Northern Ireland Childminding Association chief executive Patricia Lewsley-Mooney said nerves are frayed.

"We are asking that people be reasonable in this time of crisis and parents and childminders come to a compromise around payment.

"Childminders are self employed people who need income, but some parents have lost their jobs. How can you get that income off them if they have no money?

"We need people to come to sensible arrangements so everybody is at least able to live."

Ms Lewsley-Mooney said she and colleagues have "spent the last couple of weeks lobbying MPs, MLAs and the departments of health, education and employment" and will continue to do so "until this loophole around the newly established businesses is closed."

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