A child at mealtime

North East calls for local restrictions change on childcare

Leaders across the North East are calling on Government to amend new local COVID-19 restriction measures to allow families to continue their usual childcare arrangements. 
Seven local authorities came together to request stricter measures across the region in response to rapidly rising infection rates. 
In their request to the Department of Health Social Care, the leaders of Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham requested that people be able to enter other households for the purposes of childcare while the main carer was at work. 
Health Secretary Matt Hancock approved a host of new regulations but rejected this request from the North East local authority leaders. 
Cllr Glen Sanderson, 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. 
“Sadly, this request was denied by the Department of Health and Social Care, and we are urgently asking them to reverse this decision as a matter of urgency. 
 “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 to urgently reconsider this decision and recognises the reality facing many families right across the North East.” 
The LA7 Leaders have now written to Government asking them to reverse their decision. 
Jonathan Walker, Policy Director, North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “Childcare provided by close family and friends is an unseen pillar upon which our economy rests. 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. Government must immediately amend these restrictions.” 
The new restrictions introduced to tackle rising infection rates came into effect on Friday, September 17. They include a ban on social mixing with other households and new regulations for the hospitality trade among a number of changes. 
Find more details about the new restrictions here.  
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