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Pre-school Education: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 114773, tabled on 31 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what (a) financial and (b) other steps he is taking to help support nurseries and early years settings in (i) Coventry North East constituency, (ii) Coventry, (iii) the West Midlands and (iv) England facing disruption related to covid-19.

Answered on

3 February 2022

The government is providing unprecedented support to the sector across England. On 21 December 2021 an additional £102 million of financial support was announced as part of a discretionary grant to local authorities, alongside the hospitality, leisure and culture grants. It is up to individual local authorities to decide how best to use this funding, in order to support businesses which are impacted financially by COVID-19, but this can include early years (EY) providers.

In addition, the statutory sick pay rebate scheme (SSPRS) returned mid-January 2022 for COVID-related absences. This covers for up to two weeks per employee occurring from 21 December 2021 onwards. Employers will be able to claim regardless of whether they claimed under the previous scheme for the same employee. And, as well as access to the recovery loan scheme running until 30 June 2022, providers also have access to 66% relief on their business rates (nurseries discount) up until 31 March 2022. The government has announced a freeze to the business rates multiplier in financial year 2022-23, which will support all ratepayers, including EY businesses, ahead of the revaluation in 2023, and is a tax cut worth £4.6 billion to business over the next 5 years. Support is available to all providers within Coventry North East, Coventry more widely and the West Midlands, as well as across England.

In terms of additional support to nurseries across England, including Coventry North East, Coventry and the West Midlands, we have also designed a recovery programme focused on supporting practitioners and leaders backed by £180 million of funding. Within this, £17 million is to deliver the Nuffield early language intervention to improve language skills in young children around the time that they start school, £10 million is funding a second phase of the EY professional development programme to provide further coverage of early language, maths and personal, social and emotional development training to EY educators. This recovery package also includes the £153 million of funding to build a stronger, more expert workforce, enabling settings to deliver high quality teaching and address the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the youngest children with a focus on the most disadvantaged areas.

Within the £153 million, we will deliver a universal training offer, together with targeted support to leaders and practitioners, to create a more sustainable and self-supporting system, strengthen specialist expertise and leadership in the sector by boosting skills to develop children’s early language and maths as well as their personal and social development, improve the capacity of the EY workforce to support children with special educational needs, and train practitioners to support parents with home learning, which is one of the biggest drivers of early outcomes and future attainment.

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