Northumberland chief calls on Government to scrap lockdown-style ban on relatives helping with childcare

The acting leader of Northumberland County Council has joined a regional call for the new Covid-19 rules on childcare to be changed.

By Ben O'Connell
Friday, 18th September 2020, 5:54 pm
The Government has confirmed relatives will not be allowed to help with childcare under new restrictions for the North East
The Government has confirmed relatives will not be allowed to help with childcare under new restrictions for the North East

In their request to the Department of Health Social Care for stricter restrictions, the leaders of Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham councils (the LA7) had asked that people be able to enter other households for the purposes of childcare while the main carer was at work.

It has since proved one of the main talking points in relation to the measures which came into force today Friday, September 18, with Liz Twist, the Labour MP for Blaydon, raising it during the debate following the announcement yesterday.

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Cllr Glen Sanderson, acting leader of Northumberland County Council

The concerns in relation to this informal childcare by family and friends are that it is often carried out by grandparents who are in the age range likely to be more at risk.

“It is a challenge because of the problem of intergenerational transmission of the virus…so it’s an important balance that we need to strike,”Mr Hancock said.

Earlier today, the Government finally published its full guidance on the restrictions, which states: ‘Friends or family who do not live with you must not visit your home to help with childcare unless they are part of your support bubble.’

But the LA7 Leaders have now written to the Government asking it to reverse this decision.

Cllr Glen Sanderson, acting leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “Our residents rely on their friends and families to provide childcare which provides much-needed support to our working parents.

“We do understand that many parents will now face some difficult decisions and that many rely on extended families and the goodwill of their others for childcare support.

“We now asking that the Government urgently reconsiders this decision and recognises the reality facing many families right across the North East.”

Jonathan Walker, policy director at the North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “Childcare provided by close family and friends is an unseen pillar upon which our economy rests.

He added: “It enables parents to return to work, provides flexibility for those who work long or irregular hours and is an invaluable resource for sole traders and new entrepreneurs. The Government’s announcement has already created a huge amount of uncertainty for employees and employers alike.

“Furthermore, the exclusion of informal childcare is a deeply regressive step. It will negatively affect parents and carers, especially those on lower incomes, more profoundly at a time when we should be building an economic recovery that is fair for all. The Government must immediately amend these restrictions.”

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