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Pre-school Education: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 122643, tabled on 10 February 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) Gosport constituency, (ii) Hampshire and (iii) England facing disruption related to the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

24 February 2022

As we take the next steps in living with COVID-19, we remain committed to doing everything possible to protect face-to-face education and care, and keep early years providers open for all children.

At the Spending Review on 27 October 2021, the government announced additional funding of £160 million in the financial years 2022-23, £180 million in 2023-24, and £170 million in 2024-25, as compared to the current financial year. This is for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers. It also reflects cost pressures as well as anticipated changes in the number of eligible children.

The department continues to publish comprehensive guidance to support nurseries and other early years providers in delivering a safe and secure environment for children and staff as we continue to learn to live with COVID-19. This applies to providers across England. This guidance explains the control measures that providers should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This includes ensuring good hygiene, maintaining appropriate cleaning regimes, and keeping spaces well-ventilated.

The department has also issued guidance to clarify that providers can use the existing flexibilities on ratios that are set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework. This will help manage short-term workforce pressures so long as children continue to be cared for safely.

The government continues to monitor the early years sector for issues, including through engagement with local authorities. These support measures apply to all early years and childcare providers across England.