Liverpool nursery owner says Government must do more

In his Spring Budget Chancellor Jeremy Hunt extended childcare funding – but Liverpool nursery owner John Miller says the Government must do more. Tony McDonough reports

Sure Steps
John Miller runs two Sure Steps Day Nurseries in Allerton and Old Swan


Liverpool nursery owner John Miller says the Government has not gone far enough in its support for the childcare sector.

In his Spring Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt pledged to extend existing support to all children aged nine months and over to make it more affordable for parents, and mothers in particular, to get back to work.

These new measures will fully come into force in 2026. They were welcomed by many parents and were a key point of discussion at a Budget briefing event held for members of Liverpool Chamber and hosted by RSM.

John was present at the event. And while he welcomed the extra funding he warned that there were still gaps in capacity and workforce in the UK nursery sector. He is the director of Sure Steps Day Nursery which operates in Allerton and Old Swan.

“The extension of childcare support is undoubtedly positive news for working parents and could make a big impact on their lives,” said John.

“However, the challenge is that the current infrastructure in terms of capacity and workforce isn’t where it needs to be to make this work.

“We currently have a sector-wide problem of insufficient labour and skills and it can take three years to train a fully-qualified member of staff. Most nurseries currently have multiple staff vacancies in a highly competitive labour market.

“And many currently have little space for additional children – those that do may not have the staff required.

“Existing funding from Government is inadequate. So unless their proposal addresses this for the additional funded places, then the problem will only deepen.

“For this new policy to be successful, we would like to see the introduction of training bursaries for the wider workforce and new opportunities to recruit students from school or colleges, alongside investment in the facilities required to make this work.”


Chancellor Jeremy Hunt
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt address offered more funding for childcare in his Budget


Paul Cherpeau, chief executive at Liverpool Chamber, concluded: “The UK has not fared well recently when translating strategy to operational delivery, and I hope that childcare funding does not become another example of that.

“More funding and a clear delivery map will be needed if the government is to hit its targets over the coming years.”

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Other topics for discussion at the event included the Chancellor’s decision to abolish the lifetime allowance on pension savings.

Graham Bond, office managing partner at RSM in Liverpool and Chester, said: “Scrapping the lifetime allowance means people will now be allowed to put as much as they can into their private pension scheme without being taxed, thus removing the current £1m threshold.”

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