Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): support to childcare sector

Published: 22 Dec 2020
Last updated: 13 Jan 2021 - see all updates

Guidance on the daycare services for children in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): support to childcare sector


This information applies to private and third sector childcare providers and childminders, and sets out the range of business and financial support that has been made available to childcare sector.

Financial support for childcare providers impacted by the decision to restrict the operation of childcare provision between 26 December 2020 and at least 31 January 2021

Settings which can, may wish to consider if it is possible to furlough any members of staff, while continuing to operate their services for children who can access their care at this time. Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme all UK employers with a PAYE scheme can access support to safeguard workers from being made redundant. The UK Government announced on 17 December that the Scheme is being extended until 30 April 2021.

You can claim for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020, as long as you have made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between the 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.

Employers can furlough employees for any amount of time and any work pattern, while still being able to claim the grant for the hours not worked.

Childminding services should note that the UK Government has extended the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). The extension will last for 6 months, from November 2020 to April 2021. 

We know that continuation of payments for funded ELC was an important aspect of support to providers during the initial restrictions from March 2020. We also know that many local authorities have continued to issue these payments even where services have closed due to COVID-19 or children have been self-isolating since reopening.

We have agreed with local government that these payments should continue during this period of additional restrictions, even for those children who are not able to attend, to ensure that local ELC capacity is retained to ensure sustainability for the future delivery of ELC.

Payments will be based on existing, agreed rates for delivery of funded ELC. Providers should continue to engage with local authorities on an open book basis to evidence, among other things, the public grants and support received and the extent of local authority support needed to maintain business continuity. Local authorities should refer to the joint letter from the Minister for Children and Young People and COSLA Spokesperson for Children and Young People, issued on 23 December, for further information.

Interim guidance was published in July 2020 regarding the requirements on early learning and childcare settings and local authorities from August 2020 for delivery of Funding Follows the Child. This includes updated interim guidance on the setting of sustainable rates for the delivery of funded early learning and childcare in the context of the impacts of COVID-19.

We are encouraging all childcare providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents, recognising the unprecedented situation brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is of particular importance that childcare providers are sensitive to families’ financial situations when considering their charging policies, particularly at a time when the country continues to respond to the extraordinary circumstances brought about by this outbreak.

We recognise that not all private and third sector childcare providers may be able to access support through the existing routes to meet the additional costs and income losses incurred to comply with the latest public health guidance in response to COVID-19.

That is why the Deputy First Minister has announced that the Scottish Government will make temporary financial support available to these providers to support them to remain open for key worker and vulnerable children during the period of the temporary restrictions. Further information is available.

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First published: 22 Dec 2020 Last updated: 13 Jan 2021 -