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Department for Education: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 153130, tabled on 11 February 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what (a) policies and (b) grant and funding programmes his Department has introduced to provide support to individuals and organisations in response to the covid-19 outbreak; and what funding has been allocated to each of those programmes in the 2020-21 financial year.

Answered on

3 March 2021

The Department is continuing to fund nurseries and schools as normal and provide 16-19 funding allocations to further education (FE) colleges as usual throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

A) Policies


This has been a challenging time for teachers and school leaders, and the Government has supported them since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. We have regularly published and updated guidance to ensure that it reflects the most up-to-date medical and scientific information to make sure that teachers, parents, and young people are as well informed as possible in the current rapidly changing circumstances. The latest guidance for schools is available here:

On 3 February 2021, the Government confirmed the appointment of Sir Kevan Collins as the education recovery commissioner. He will advise on the approach for education recovery, with a particular focus on helping students catch up on education lost because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Department will be working in collaboration with the education sector to develop short, medium, and long-term plans to make sure children and young people have the chance to make up their education over the course of this Parliament, further details will be made available in due course.

Vulnerable Children

During the period of national lockdown announced on 4 January 2021, primary, secondary, alternative provision, special schools, and FE colleges have remained open to vulnerable children and young people. We expected schools to offer a place to all vulnerable children. Those who are vulnerable include those who have a social worker, those with an education health and care plan or those who have been deemed to be otherwise vulnerable by local authorities or education providers.

Where vulnerable children and young people cannot attend education provision (including post-16), we have asked local authorities, schools, and colleges to ensure they have systems in place to keep in touch with them.

Throughout all restrictions to date, children’s social care services and early help services have continued to support vulnerable children and young people and their families. We will continue to ensure this is the case during this period of national restrictions.

Temporary secondary legislation was laid in April 2020 to support the delivery of services and allow local authorities to focus on child protection issues. As the COVID-19 outbreak continued and following public consultation, a small number of flexibilities from those regulations remained in place from 25 September 2020. These regulations are due to expire on 31 March 2021. A public consultation seeking views on extending the flexibilities for a further six months ran until 28 February 2021.

B) Grant and Funding Programmes

Early Years

We are funding nurseries as usual and all children are able to attend their nurseries in all parts of England. Where nurseries do see a drop in income from either parent-paid fees or income from the Department for Education, they are able to use the furlough scheme.

We will fund local authorities in the 2021 spring term based on their January 2021 census. If attendance rises after the census is taken, we will top-up councils to up to 85% of their January 2020 census level, where a local authority can provide evidence for increased attendance during the spring term. This will give local authorities additional financial confidence to pay providers for increasing attendance later in the spring term.

We have provided £5.3 million to existing early years voluntary and community sector (VCS) partners on the home learning environment and EYSEND to support disadvantaged early children’s development and well-being and early years providers to help children catch up and transition back into early education in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have invested £9 million on improving the language skills of reception age children who need it most this academic year. Working with the Education Endowment Foundation, we are providing training and resources for the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI), free of charge, to schools that would particularly benefit.

In January 2021, we announced £18 million to support language development in the early years next academic year – £8 million to offer the NELI to many more schools and £10 million for a pre-reception early language catch up programme.

Schools and Catch up

The Government is providing a comprehensive package of support, including the £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme, enabling councils to support those families in need.

The Government announced a significant expansion of the Holiday Activities and Food Programme with funding of up to £220 million, reaching all local authority areas from Easter 2021.

Last year Edenred reported that over £380 million worth of voucher codes had been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of 19 August 2020.

Edenred also reported that over 20,350 schools placed orders for the scheme.

During the period of school opening restrictions, schools have continued to provide meal options for all pupils who are in school. Meals should be available free of charge to all infant pupils and pupils who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals who are in school. Schools are also continuing to provide free school meal support to pupils who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals and who are learning at home.

We have been providing £3.50 top-up funding per eligible pupil per week for schools providing lunch parcels and £15 per eligible child per week for vouchers. Extra costs incurred will be claimed retrospectively by schools and all valid claims will be paid in full.

In June 2020 we announced a catch-up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch Up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time and £350m for the National Tutoring Programme.

In January 2021 we also committed to a further programme of catch up which will involve £300 million of new money to early years, schools and providers of 16-19 further education for high-quality tutoring.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people.

As of Monday 1 March, over 1.2 million laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities, and further education colleges.

The Government has set out further measures to support education recovery in the written ministerial statement of Wednesday 24 February, which includes a new one-off £302 million Recovery Premium for state primary and secondary schools, building on the Pupil Premium, to further support pupils who need it most.

Further Education


Part of the skills recovery package included the high value courses for school and college leavers one year offer for 18- and 19-year-olds. This is to encourage and support delivery of selected Level 2 and 3 qualifications in specific subjects and sectors that enable a more productive economy and support young people to remain engaged with education, employment and training. This is a one-off intervention in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and supports 18- to 19-year-olds leaving school or college to find work in high-demand sectors like engineering, construction, and social care. We will provide £100 million to create more places on Level 2 and 3 courses for the 2020-21 academic year.

We are supporting the largest ever expansion of traineeships, providing an additional 30,000 places in the 2020-21 academic year, to ensure that more young people have access to high-quality training. To encourage this, we have introduced £1,000 incentive payments for employers who offer traineeship work placement opportunities between 1 September 2020 and 31 July 2021. As part of the Plan for Jobs, an additional £111 million has been made available for traineeships in the 2020-21 financial year.

The 16 to 19 tuition fund was set up to provide one-off funding, for the 2020-21 academic year only. We are providing £37 million to support the 16-19 tuition fund for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year as part of the wider COVID-19 catch up package. This is ring fenced funding for schools, colleges and all other 16-19 providers to help mitigate the disruption to learning arising from COVID-19.


We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) £1.34 billion in 2020-21.

In response to COVID-19, we have introduced a change to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) AEB Funding Rules for the 2020-21 academic year, to enable providers to use their learner support funds to purchase IT devices for students (aged 19+) and to help them meet students’ IT connectivity costs, where these costs are a barrier to accessing or continuing in their training.

Last year, due to COVID-19, we lowered the AEB reconciliation threshold for grant funded providers to 68%, based on provider’s average delivery during the 2019-20 academic year. In view of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, including the transfer to remote education and the reduced attendance on-site with effect from 5 January, we are currently reviewing the end of year reconciliation position for 2020-21. Any changes to the published arrangements will be communicated in the ESFA’s Weekly Update (published on in due course.

We welcome my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement of an additional £17 million in the 2020-21 financial year to support an increase in the number of sector-based work academy programme (SWAP) placements. In England, the pre-employment training element of SWAPs is generally funded by the Department for Education through the AEB, which in several regions is managed by the relevant mayoral combined authority (MCA).

In devolved areas, it is for MCAs (or the Greater London Authority) to determine funding arrangements for adult education for their residents.

Higher Education

We recognised that the COVID-19 outbreak would make this a challenging year for higher education (HE). This is why, alongside access to the business support schemes, we brought forward £2 billion+ worth of tuition fee payments, provided £280 million grant funding for research and established a loan scheme to cover up to 80% of a university’s income losses from international students for the academic year 2020-21 up to the value of their non-publicly funded research activity support research.

The Department has worked with the Office for Students (OfS) to clarify that universities are able to use existing funds, worth around £256 million for academic year 2020-21, towards hardship support. We are also making available an additional £50 million of hardship funding this financial year. In total we have made £70 million of funding available for student hardship including the £20 million made available to universities in December. Alongside this we have worked with the OfS to provide student space, which has been funded by up to £3 million by the OfS to support student mental health.


Following the COVID-19 outbreak, we introduced policy flexibilities to support apprentices and employers to continue with, and complete, their programmes and we encouraged providers and assessment organisations to deliver training and assessments flexibly, including remotely, to enable this. Our guidance provides further detail:

To help employers offer new apprenticeships, as part of the Government's Plan for Jobs, they are able to claim £2,000 for every apprentice they hire as a new employee under the age of 25, and £1,500 for new apprentices aged 25 and over between 1 August 2020 and 31 March 2021. Incentive payments are funded from the overall annual, apprenticeship budget. In the 2020-21 financial year, funding available for investment in apprenticeships in England is almost £2.5 billion, double what was spent in the 2010-11 financial year.

Vulnerable Children

The Government has provided £4.6 billion of funding to support councils through the COVID-19 outbreak, this is part of an unprecedented level of additional financial support in recent times. The Government has also allocated funding to children’s voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations. This funding aims to ensure charities can continue to provide services that safeguard vulnerable children and protect them from harm.

The Government has provided £40.8 million this year for the Family Fund to help over 80,000 low-income families who have children with disabilities or serious illnesses. This includes £13.5 million specifically in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.