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Educational Institutions and Nurseries: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 96038, tabled on 28 September 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 15 July 2020 to Question 70379 on Schools and Nurseries: Coronavirus, if he will make it his policy to provide further additional funding for state (a) schools, (b) nurseries and (c) other education institutions to fund (i) monies spent and (ii) planned spending on additional (A) cleaning required by covid-19 risk assessments and (B) classroom based staff to facilitate flexible deployment for clinically vulnerable staff and (C) other demonstrable costs incurred as a result of following covid-19 guidance.

Answered on

6 October 2020

The Department is providing additional funding to schools, on top of existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred between March to July due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources.

Schools have been eligible to claim for: increased premises related costs associated with keeping schools open over the Easter and summer half term holidays; support for free school meals for eligible children who are not in school, where schools are not using the national voucher scheme; and additional cleaning costs required due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases, over and above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements. The Department has published detailed guidance on the fund at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools.

The first claims window for the fund closed on 21 July. All claims for funding within the specified cost categories and maximum limit have already been paid. The Department is assessing all other claims, which will be paid later in the autumn if approved.

There will also be a further opportunity in autumn for schools to claim for exceptional costs they faced between March to July. This second claims window will be available for schools who were unable to claim in the summer and will be for the same eligible cost categories.

As set out in the Department’s reopening guidance, schools should use their existing resources when planning to welcome all children back for the autumn. The guidance can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures#funding.

Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, as usual, regardless of partial or complete closure. That will ensure that they are able to continue to pay their staff and meet their other regular financial commitments.

All nurseries and childminders (including maintained nursery schools) have benefitted from the continuation of early years entitlement funding during the COVID-19 outbreak, and as they typically rely on private income for a significant proportion of their income, they have also been able to access support to furlough their staff via the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme.

Nurseries and childminders cannot claim for specific costs incurred due to increased premises costs needed to keep schools open during school holidays, or over and above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements as a result of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. The Department continues to look at the costs associated with COVID-19 to secure the best and most appropriate support for nurseries and childminders.

The Department also expects colleges and universities to prioritise the health and safety of their staff and students and put in place measures that apply to their individual circumstances. The Department has provided £256 million of additional funding for academic year 2020-21 starting from August for student hardship funds and mental health support. In addition, further education providers have been able to use their 16-19 Bursary Fund to purchase devices for students to support remote education.