To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether local authorities will continue funding free childcare entitlements throughout the covid-19 outbreak.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
30 March 2020
Childcare providers are making a vital contribution in our fight against COVID-19. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 18 March, they will continue to do so by focusing on childcare for the children of critical workers, and vulnerable children. To assist this change, the Department for Education has confirmed that it will not claw back funding from local authorities for any periods of closures where settings are closed or children are not able to attend due to COVID-19. The government expects local authorities to follow the department’s position, and continue early years entitlements funding for childminders, pre-schools and nurseries. This should also apply to those infant and primary schools that deliver the early years entitlements. This will minimise short-term disruptions to early years providers’ finances and allow the system to recover more quickly.
The Chancellor has also announced a package of support for businesses that will include many early years and childcare providers. This includes business rates relief, a range of loans and grants and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This scheme allows all UK employers access to support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
We have also issued guidance for local authorities and providers about childcare for specific groups. However, we recognise that when all adults in a household are hospitalised, and there are no family and friends able to provide support, children may need to be cared for in emergency and temporary foster care until parents recover.
The department continues to work alongside Public Health England and early years and children’s social care sector representatives to ensure support is in place for children that need it, and that all measures taken are in the best interests of the health of our nation.