The 30 hour “free” childcare funding crisis and the nursery business rates issue were simultaneously and triumphantly resolved in this Spring’s budget, much to the delight of pub landlords, nursery managers and parents everywhere. The solution is simple: make childcare places available in all pubs, clubs and bars and convert all nurseries into pubs, clubs or bars. The new initiative is called Obarmacare. Overnight, the number of available childcare places has more than quadrupled meaning that every eligible child is now absolutely guaranteed a childcare place. And whilst perfect for parents working permanent night shifts, other working parents may have to renegotiate their hours of work to fit around individual pubs’ premises license since most won’t open for business until 11am. Ministers admit that there will naturally be some disruption to family routine and whilst this is unavoidable and somewhat regrettable everyone will just have to get over it.

Newly-appointed Minister for Scented Nappy Sacks and Talcum Powder, Lettice Alsopp-Grumbling, explained how she came up with the revolutionary new concept which she believes will have a profoundly positive effect on society. “Nurseries simply take up far too much land what with their outdoor play areas, lawns and forests and such like and so it’s their own faults really that they can’t afford their business rates”. She explained that despite the social good that nurseries provide through early education for children and supporting parents to work, a recent campaign for nurseries to receive full rates relief has largely fallen on big, fat, deaf ears.

Under the new initiative, bars will be required to change their business description from that of the sale of booze and pub grub to the sale of booze, pub grub and the provision of childcare off domestic premises. Existing nurseries are encouraged to apply immediately for a capital funding grant to enable them to transform their baby rooms, tweenie rooms and preschool rooms into pool rooms, over 18s game rooms and function rooms suitable for private parties. They will also be required to register for a license to sell alcohol if they wish to take advantage of the new discount on business rates.

Alsopp-Grumbling told us how she arrived at her ingeniously cunning plan: “If we’re perfectly honest, we as a nation just really like pubs more than we like nurseries. Yes, it’s true that both have screaming kids running around all over the place but at least in a pub we can drink alcohol, read our newsfeed and take beautiful selfies using fabulous snapchat filters and largely ignore it all”. It is understood that this is why pubs, rather than nurseries, have just been given a £1,000 discount on business rates effectively supporting around 90 per cent of them to remain sustainable. Nurseries failing to participate in the new Obarmacare initiative will simply not be seen to be meeting the demands of the modern working family or else are just plain snooty. Either way, it is predicted that they will soon fall out of favour and eventually go out of business, at which point huge nursery chains will snap up their property for tenths of a penny, snaffle all their experienced practitioners and deftly convert premises into Weaningspoons, Toddler Taverns and Early Years Inns.

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Parents concerned about the lack of sufficient outdoor space and fresh air will take comfort from the fact that all Obarmacare pubs must have gardens albeit equipped predominantly with wooden trestles, Carlsberg parasols, smoking huts and an unsupervised, never-maintained climbing frame in the shape of a large multi-decked sailing ship.

It is expected that the new Obarmacare pubs will have a range of advantages over the traditional nursery:

  1. Longer opening hours: Since permitted opening hours are theoretically continuous, meaning that they can be open 24 hours a day, Obarmacare pubs will be better able to meet the diverse needs of modern family lifestyles. What is more, these family-friendly hours will attract a flexibility supplement of just shy of a penny per hour per child.
  2. Parents dropping off their child at 11am will be able to pick up an all-day 7 item breakfast-to-go for the unbeatable entirely voluntary price of £1.99.
  3. Parents will have complete reassurance that their child will have a hot lunch every day with a choice of chips, curly fries or skinny fries with every meal whether they lend themselves to the dish or not, washed down with cola, lemonade or a fruit shoot.

Snack time at Obarmacare pubs will largely consist of roasted peanuts, crisps and pork scratchings regardless of whether children have allergies, intolerances, special religious dietary requirements or even teeth for that matter, and vegetarian options such as pickled onions and olives may be available in more rural Obarmacare pubs. It should be noted, however, that only food and drink purchased in Obarmacare pubs may be consumed on the premises and therefore parents are prohibited from trying to avoid voluntary subsidy payments by sending children to day care with packed lunches. Obarmacare pubs catering to the more discerning parent cannot emphasise enough that only the finest canapes and naughty nibbles including munchy seeds, propercorn and anything from the “awfully posh” range will be available for their darling offspring.

And good news too for those parents who like their child to get their 5 a-day for they will be pleased to learn that the April 2017 amendments to the EYFS statutory framework now stipulate that children must have all day independent access to wedges of lemon and lime. (Ice cubes must also be available throughout the day).

Ofsted grades will no longer rely entirely upon the quality of the care and education of the children but on whether the setting sells more Peroni and Chateauneuf du Pape than it does Fosters and Lambrini. This is on the strength of recent government research which concludes that where the sale of posh beverages is highest there is generally a better working relationship between staff and their highly educated, highly successful, highfalutin parents and moreover, a better home learning environment for their highly privileged, highly demanding, high maintenance children. No other evidence is considered to be necessary.  The range of ciders, beers and lagers and the availability of fine wines therefore will be taken as the most realistic indicator of the overall quality of provision of childcare and will determine whether or not settings will be entitled to the quality supplement.

There will also be plenty of exciting new activities for children to enjoy in the new Obarmacare pubs including rodeo bulls, open mic and open deck nights, karaoke discos and general knowledge quizzes. Craft sessions will largely involve designing A4 posters using dated clip art and a basic Microsoft Word event flyer template to promote upcoming ladies only nights, clairvoyant sessions, New Year’s Eve parties and the availability of the function room for all occasions. Staff too will benefit. They can choose whether to be paid in actual real money, beer chits or discount codes and vouchers to save on classic British food and drink. (They cannot be exchanged for cash and can only be redeemed in the childcare pub they work in). They will also have the opportunity to top up their wages and pension contributions by playing bingo and buying raffle tickets with the prospect of winning cash prizes in Play Your Cards Right and Key To The Box.

Managers will have umpteen opportunities to raise extra cash to support the day to day running of their settings. Race nights, pay per view football matches and boxing events are all great little earners. Managers are even encouraged to offset their under-funding rates by utilising the beer slops from the drip trays rather than using them to top up customers’ pints while they’re digging around in their pockets for change. Some managers have said they will use the wastage to make beer and cider slushes, lager & lime ice lollies and cherry brandy ice cups which will retail anywhere between 99p and £9.99 each depending on whether the setting is in a designated deprivation area or not.

Not one nursery manager made themselves available to welcome or condemn the initiative since every single one of them seems to be under the distinct impression that news of the failed rates relief campaign is nothing other than just one more episode of Westminster high jinx.

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