Important information for providers taken from a letter to the Early Years and Childcare Service from the Dept for Education

Important information for providers taken from a letter to the Early Years and Childcare Service from the Department for Education:

Easing of National Lockdown restrictions

On 22nd February, the Prime Minister outlined changes to national lockdown restrictions. In response to
this, we have updated our guidance for Early Years and have made the following clarifications for Early
Years providers.

Face coverings

We have clarified the guidance on wearing of face coverings where social distancing between staff in
communal areas is not possible. In Early Years settings, we recommend that face coverings should be
worn by staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible (for
example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas). Children in early years settings do not
need to wear a face covering.

Childminders for school-aged children

Childminders can continue to look after all early years children. Until 8th March, childminders could only
look after those school-age children (from reception onwards) who were vulnerable or children of critical
workers. From 8th March, childminders can now look after vulnerable children as normal, and all other
children where parents are using the provision to support them to work, seek work, undertake education or
training, or attend a medical appointment or address a medical need.


From 22nd March, the asymptomatic testing programme in education will expand to all staff in private,
voluntary and independent (PVI) nurseries, who will start to receive deliveries of Lateral Flow Devices
(LFDs) from 15th March. PVI settings will not need to place an order to receive this initial delivery of testing
The Department will be in touch with PVI settings in the second week of March to provide further guidance
for the use of LFD home testing kits, which will also include information about accessing webinars
explaining in more detail how the home testing process will work.
Staff in schools-based nurseries, maintained nursery schools and PVI settings will be supplied with at home
Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test kits which they will be able to use before coming into work. No further
workforce, equipment or funding is therefore required for the administration of these tests; as a result,
settings will not receive additional funding to carry out testing.
On Wednesday 10th March, we shared with you an email that the Department for Education had sent to PVI
settings to notify them that they would be receiving home testing kits for use from 22nd March. We have
been informed that some providers have reported issues with the delivery of these kits. In case you missed
it, a follow-up email that we sent to you on Thursday 11th March sets out further detail for providers,
including how to report a problem if they think that their delivery may be incorrect.

Support on offer to the Early Years Sector following the Budget

The 2021 Budget was announced on 3rd March, and childcare providers in your area may find the following
information useful:

Extension of CJRS

The Chancellor has announced that CJRS will be extended until the end of September. However, from 1 July, employers will be asked to make contributions to the cost of unworked hours. These will be paid at a rate of 10% in July and 20% in August and September. For the period until 30th April, employees who were on payroll on or before 30th October 2020 will be eligible for the scheme. From 1st May, employees on payroll on or before 2nd March 2021 will be eligible for the scheme. Providers should consult our guidance on financial support for education, early years and children’s social care and HMRC’s guidance on claiming for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for further details.


As childminders are usually self-employed, they may benefit from the continuation of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme which has also been extended until the end of September 2021. Newly registered Childminders are now eligible to claim the fourth grant, as long as they provided a 2019-20 self-assessment before 2 March 2021. Further information on the fourth grant can be found here: Self-Employment Income Support Scheme fourth grant – GOV.UK

Business rates relief

Eligible nurseries may also qualify for nurseries discount as part of the governments Business Rates Relief, if the business is on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and the premises is wholly or mainly used to provide the Early Years Foundation Stage of education. Further detail on this can be found at Business rates relief: Nurseries discount – GOV.UK

Business support loans

Bounce-back and other coronavirus loans for businesses will be replaced by a new recovery loan scheme, 80% guaranteed by the government. Eligible nurseries may also access the new Recovery Loans as set out by the Chancellor on 3 March 2021. Further details regarding this loan scheme can be found here: Recovery Loan Scheme – GOV.UK

Apprenticeships and training

Employers who hire a new apprentice between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021 will receive a direct payment of £3,000 per new hire, compared with £1,500 per new apprentice hire (or £2,000 for those aged 24 and under) under the previous scheme. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government provides for all new 16-18 year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan, where that applies. Portable apprenticeships will also be extended.

Early Years: spring term funding

As we announced on 17th December 2020, we will fund local authorities in this spring term based on the
January 2021 census. If attendance rises after the census week, we will top-up local authorities 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.

Further guidance for local authorities, setting out the details as to how the 85% top-up scheme works,
together with information on our approach for funding the summer term 2021, will be shared shortly.

Reminder: EEA pre-settled status

We would like to remind local authorities that EEA and Swiss nationals already resident in the UK before
31st December 2020 will need to ensure they have applied for EU Settled Status by 30th June 2021 if they
want to keep accessing their 30 hours free childcare entitlement and Tax-Free childcare. In the meantime,
they should continue to apply for, and reconfirm, their 30 hours places as usual using the Childcare

A range of charities, local authorities and voluntary organisations across the UK have been funded by
Home Office to provide help and information to vulnerable EU, EEA and Swiss citizens applying to the EU
Settlement Scheme. Further information about these organisations.

Parents and providers may also wish to use the postcode checker, which helps EU citizens to see a list of the nearest organisations who are able to provide in-person support. Further information on the application process.

30 hours free childcare summer term application deadline

The next application deadline for 30 hours free childcare is Wednesday 31st March. We would encourage parents to apply in advance of this date, as this will give them an opportunity to supply additional information to HMRC if needed to support their application, and allow them time for a smooth transition into receiving their free childcare.

The Department for Education also ask Local Authorities to promote Tax Free Childcare (TFC) and the 30 hours to parents, we would urge you to join us in doing this please as it may help increase the number of parents that use your provision and the amount of childcare they use.