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Pre-school Education: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 122774, tabled on 30 November 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the decision not to include Early Years providers in the short term Covid Workforce Funding offered to schools and colleges.

Answered on

7 December 2020

The government recognises the importance of supporting the early years sector financially during the COVID-19 outbreak, which is why we are continuing to fund childcare for the autumn term at the same level as before the COVID-19 outbreak, giving nurseries and childminders another term of secure income, regardless of how many children are attending.

Given the uncertain times ahead, we are keeping our plans for the funding of spring term 2021 under close review. Further details will be announced as soon as possible.

In addition to this, the government has provided a package of support for individuals and businesses which is directly benefitting providers of childcare. This includes business rates relief and grants, the extended Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will remain open until March 2021.

Early years settings will continue to benefit from a planned £3.6 billion funding in the 2020-21 financial year to create free early education and childcare places. On 25 November, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a £44 million investment in the 2021-22 financial year, for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the government’s free childcare entitlement offers. This will pay for a rate increase that is higher than the costs nurseries may face from the uplift to the national living wage in April. Further information on how this will be distributed will be made available as soon as possible.

The Covid Workforce Fund aims to support schools and colleges to remain open, even when they face significant workforce pressures caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The number of early years providers has remained broadly stable throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. An estimated 80% of early years settings were open on 26 November and we estimate that 826,000 children were attending early years settings. The attendance in education data and Ofsted data on joiners and leavers in the childcare sector, contains further information.

The attendance in education data is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak. Ofsted data on joiners and leavers in the childcare sector is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/joiners-and-leavers-in-the-childcare-sector.

Data published on 26 October in the latest parent survey by Ipsos MORI showed that, in September, 94% of parents whose child received formal childcare before the COVID-19 outbreak were either using formal childcare now or were intending to return their child to formal childcare if they could by January 2021. The Ipsos MORI parent survey is available here: https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/childcare-and-home-learning-families-0-4-year-olds-during-covid-19-0.

We continue to work with the early years sector to understand how they can best be supported to ensure that sufficient safe, appropriate and affordable childcare is available for those returning to work now, and for all families who need it in the longer term.