Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): support to childcare sector

Published: 22 Dec 2020
Last updated: 4 Oct 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
Private and third sector providers: financial support

Private and third sector providers: business and financial support

This guidance applies to private and third sector childcare providers and sets out the range of business support that is available.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme all UK employers with a PAYE scheme can access support to safeguard workers from being made redundant. 

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.

For claims relating to September 2021, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a maximum cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ended on 30 September 2021. Claims for September must be submitted on or before 14 October 2021 and any amendments must be made by 28 October 2021.

Furlough and new staff members

For periods starting on or after 1 May 2021, you can claim for employees who were employed on 2 March 2021, as long as you have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee. You do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before the 2 March 2021 to claim for periods starting on or after 1 May 2021.

Furloughing employees flexibly

You can furlough your employees flexibly. Your staff members can work for any amount of time, and any work pattern but they cannot do any work for you during hours that you record them as being on furlough.

Accessing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if you are receiving continued payments for funded ELC

The UK Government published specific guidance for early years providers in England, which included information on accessing support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. While this guidance is for England only, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a UK-wide scheme administered by HM Revenue & Customs.

The key information for providers in Scotland is:

  • you can receive support through both: (1) continued payments for statutory (funded) ELC hours; and (2) the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • support cannot be claimed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for staff costs that already covered by other forms of public funding (the payments for statutory ELC hours)
  • you can access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to cover up to the proportion of your pay bill which could be considered to have been paid from private income
  • the guidance advises that providers should initially use the month of February 2020 to represent their usual income in calculating the proportion of its pay bill eligible to be covered by the scheme
  • for example, if 40% of your average monthly income was from payments for the funded entitlements and 60% from other income, the you could claim Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme support for up to 60% of your total pay bill. This would be done by furloughing staff whose usual salary / combined salaries come to no greater than 60% of your total pay bill.
  • you can change these proportions in subsequent furloughing applications if your income from the statutory ELC hours changes compared to February 2020 (and would therefore result in an increase or decrease in the share of your income from funded hours in February 2020)

Recovery Loan Scheme

The Recovery Loan Scheme is to provide support to UK businesses as they recover and grow following the disruption of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

  • The scheme ensures that businesses of any size can continue to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £10 million per business once the existing COVID-19 loan schemes close
  • The UK Government will guarantee 80% of the finance to the lender to give them the confidence to lend to businesses
  • Term loans and overdrafts will be available in amounts between £25,001 and £10 million per business

The scheme is open until 31 December 2021, subject to review. Loans will be available through a network of accredited lenders, whose names will be made public in due course.

Statutory Sick Pay rebate

Small and medium-sized businesses, those with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020, can reclaim Statutory Sick Pay paid for staff sickness absence due to coronavirus. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ Statutory Sick Pay per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus. You can claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) using the online system.

You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time.

Non-domestic rates

If you're struggling to pay your non-domestic rates bill then you may be able to defer payment.

You should contact your local authority and ask them about your payment options, and can find more at help with non-domestic rates during coronavirus (COVID-19).

Nursery Rates Relief Scheme

The Scottish Government announced on 4 December that that the Nursery Rates Relief Scheme will be extended until at least June 2023. The Nursery Rates Relief Scheme provides 100% relief on non-domestic rates (NDR) for premises used only as a day nursery or mainly as a day nursery. The Scheme was introduced in April 2018 and is currently legislated to expire on 31 March 2021.

The extension will allow for a full evaluation of the impact of the Scheme on providers, parents and carers – which was a recommendation of the Barclay Review of non-domestic rates.


First published: 22 Dec 2020 Last updated: 4 Oct 2021 -