Thank you for contacting me about the impact of Coronavirus on childcare.
Nurseries and other early years providers have been able to welcome back all children since the summer, and I am pleased that childcare providers and education settings more broadly have remained open during the period of autumn national restrictions.
I recognise that the period of closures will have had a big impact on early years providers and so I am pleased that the Government has acted swiftly to support them. A range of support has been made available, including a business rates holiday for one year. That means non-local authority providers of childcare pay no business rates in 2020-21, as from 1 April. The Secretary of State for Education has also confirmed that the Department for Education will continue to fully fund local authorities for free childcare entitlements, including for the autumn term. This will give nurseries and childminders another term of secure income, regardless of whether fewer children are attending.
Further details on the support available for childcare providers can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures#funding
To create a safer environment, early years settings have been asked to implement a range of protective measures including increased cleaning, reducing ‘pinch points’ (such as parents dropping children off at the start and end of the day at the same time), and utilising outdoor space. I know that Ministers continue to work with the sector to understand how early years providers can best be supported to ensure that sufficient, safe, appropriate and affordable childcare is available for all families that need it.
I hope this information has reassured you that support has been rolled out as a matter of urgency, and thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP