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Spalding nursery fears closure unless it receives more government help

A Spalding nursery says it is facing closure unless it receives more financial help from the Government to survive the pandemic.

Stephanie Barrett and Laura Spillett say their business, Bebright Preschool has lost £19,000 during the last three months but will not receive a Government grant as they do not meet the criteria.

The pair fear they may have to close their Saddlers Mead nursery in December and make 12 staff redundant unless more help is forthcoming.

Bebright at last year's Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian Education Awards (38969821)
Bebright at last year's Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian Education Awards (38969821)

South Holland District Council has distributed £295,000 to businesses and will be contacting the nursery to discuss other options.

Stephanie said: “We have tried to keep the business going and keep our staff in their jobs as this is our dream. We make a huge difference to people’s lives and we feel no-one is listening or there to help.

“It feels like we are banging our heads against a wall.”

Bebright, which was last year’s Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian Preschool of the Year, was founded in 2018 after Stephanie and Laura left their reception teacher jobs after seeing children arrive at school unable to form friendships or toilet trained. It started off as a 28 place setting but this was increased to 55 placesin 2019.

Things were going well until the coronavirus hit. It remained open to the key workers’ children and was later caring for a reduced number of pupils. Stephanie said: “May, June and July are busy months for pre-schools to carry you through to September to November.

We haven’t had that as we have been in lockdown and we have not received fee payments and now we won’t have a grant to see us through until November.We wont survive up to December if we don’t have any help.”

The preschool has running costs of up to £19,000 a month and its turn-over at year end of 2019 was £90,000 with £13,000 reserve which has been swallowed up.

They applied on June 6 for a discretionary grant but did not find out it had not been successful until yesterday.

Stephanie, who says she is aware that there are other businesses in this situation, said: “We feel aggrieved that hospitality grants of £25,000 for pubs and restaurants to open up again.

“Is the Government saying that it is more important for people to eat and not support vital childcare?

“The Government needs to listen as there will be a situation in the next year as there will be no places for children. We are social workers and healthcare workers at the moment.”

A district council spokesman said: “As a council, we sympathise deeply with any business that has been adversely impacted by COVID-19. To date, we’ve paid out £295,000 to businesses in South Holland who’ve successfully qualified for the discretionary grant scheme on the criteria of either a loss of income or premises costs.

“Of these businesses, 53% have had receipt of their grants within a four-week timescale. Sadly, this business wasn’t successful in its application.We will, however, be in contact shortly to make them aware of other opportunities to apply for funding. In the meantime, we would urge businesses to visit the Government’s Support Finder tool.”

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