Sources of support - Coronavirus

Government has made clear it will do whatever is needed to support the economy and people’s livelihoods through this challenging time. A host of measures have been announced, however we believe that further financial support is still needed. PACEY is working closely with the Department for Education (DfE) and Welsh Government to advise it on the support that childminders, nurseries and pre-schools will need in the coming weeks and months - to both support families and remain sustainable, but also to ensure that there is a strong early years and childcare sector that families can rely on when we are all able to return to our normal working lives.

The UK Government has built a business support website to outline the financial support available during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Welsh Government link to the business support available to the sector in Wales on their website.

Early years and childcare funding

The Government will continue to pay funding to local authorities for the free entitlements for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds, providing reassurance for some early years settings in England. Local authorities should follow the Department for Education’s (DfE) position and to continue early entitlements funding for all childminders, schools and nurseries currently delivering hours to children in their setting, regardless of whether or not children are able to attend due to Coronavirus. 

In Wales, the Welsh Government has announced funding for the Childcare Offer for Wales will continue to be paid to local authorities and childcare settings who currently receive payments for children in their care, even where services are disrupted.

Whilst this is good news for providers delivering funded places, we know this isn’t something everyone delivers. Other support is also likely to be of help to you and other early years and childcare settings who are struggling with sustainability.

Business loans and relief

The Government has announced a Business Interruption Loan Scheme. It supports small and medium-sized businesses with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years. The Government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the Government-owned British Business Bank. Find out more on the Coronavirus Business Support website.

The Government is providing additional funding for Local Authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs. PACEY is now working to clarify how childcare businesses can access this grant and whether micro-businesses and sole traders such as childminders qualify. As soon as we have confirmation, we will update our website.

Visit the government website for full details of all the Business Support measures that have been put in place so far.

Universal Credit

Whether you are currently in or out of work, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit. From 6 April government are increasing the standard allowance in Universal Credit (and the basic element in Working Tax Credit) for 1 year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants. 

If you have COVID-19 or are staying at home, you are now able to claim Universal Credit, and if required can access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a jobcentre.

If you are self-employed, you are able to claim Universal Credit, providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria. To support you with the economic impact of the outbreak, and allow you to follow government guidance on self-isolation and social distancing, from 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak. New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.

Furlough scheme (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme)

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020, will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’.

HMRC will pay employers a grant worth 80% of an employee’s usual wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage. This is to safeguard workers from being made redundant. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st if applicable and is initially open for 3 months, but will be extended if necessary.

We would recommend that anyone using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme should read the guidance from government. Guidance is available for those using the scheme to claim for an employee's wages, as well as for employees to check if they are eligible.

Sick pay support

If you are self-employed, and unable to work because you are unwell with COVID-19 or have to self-isolate, you will be eligible to apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). This is based on national insurance credits and is payable from day one of sickness. ESA can be claimed on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit.

If you employ staff who become unwell or have to self-isolate, they will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for 14 days. They will be able to claim SSP from day one without the need for a doctor’s certificate. Small businesses will be able to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absences relating to coronavirus during the period of the outbreak.

Mortgage relief

A three month mortgage ‘holiday’ is on offer to those customers struggling to make their mortgage payments through the COVID-19 outbreak. Some banks are also offering further support to those struggling to repay personal loans. Contact your bank or building society to see what they can offer you. PACEY is calling for all banks to start offering mortgage holidays and additional credit facilities.

Rent relief

The government has brought forward a package of measures to protect renters in England affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). With these in force, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home. From 26 March 2020, landlords will have to give all renters 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession (i.e. serve notice that they want to end the tenancy) – this means the landlord can’t apply to start the court process until after this period. After 3 months if the tenant has not moved a landlord needs to apply to court in order to proceed. Learn more about the government support for landlords and renters.

You should also check your eligibility for Universal Credit, which is available for people in and out of work. Support for rental costs will be paid through Universal Credit. From April, government are increasing Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants, and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.

Credit card relief

Some banks and card firms are offering emergency credit limit increases or repayment holidays. Others are waiving fees for missed payments, so contact your credit card company to see what’s available to you. But do be wary of taking on extra debt at this very challenging time – talk to a non profit debt counselor if you are worried.

Business rate relief

England

Following a campaign by the early years sector, the Government has announced business rate relief for nurseries in England.

Wales

The Welsh Government had previously announced business rate relief for nurseries and in addition to this all childcare providers in Wales with a rateable value of less than £100,000 who also receive 100% Small Business Rates Relief will receive a grant of £10,000.

PACEY continues to press for relief and additional support for other childcare businesses that also have to pay business rates. 

Tax support

HMRC is offering time to pay for outstanding tax bills on a case by case basis. A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals receive support with their tax affairs. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. PACEY is currently clarifying whether this is also available for self-employed, sole traders and if not, when will it be. 

Inspections and notification of closures

All routine inspections in England for good and outstanding settings and all routine inspections in Wales have been suspended until further notice. 

In England, Ofsted has confirmed that you do not need to let them know if you are closed due to COVID-19 – whether that’s because you are not caring for the children of critical workers or vulnerable children, or because you are ill. Please do continue to tell Ofsted if you are resigning your registration by emailing enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk and including your EY number. Please contact them using an email or phone number that is already known to them, and associated with your registration.

In Wales, CIW have stated that you should notify CIW of confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 of people using the service, staff and family members. By suspected, they mean people showing symptoms of the virus (new continuous cough and high temperature). Please use CIW Online to notify them and report as you would any infectious disease. If your childminding service is now closed, please inform CIW by emailing CIW@gov.wales If you are closing due to the outbreak you should notify PACEY Cymru, if you hold insurance and/or membership with us, by emailing support@pacey.org.uk

Early years coronavirus task force and Government meetings

Department for Education in England has agreed to assemble an early years Coronavirus task force which will meet twice a week. PACEY will be part of this task force to make sure our members' issues are heard. In Wales we are in regular communication with the Welsh Government.

Ongoing support from PACEY

Our Coronavirus spotlight brings together the latest information about the COVID-19 outbreak and is being updated as soon as government announcements are made.

You can also find a variety of information for your setting including support for children, hygiene and prevention advice and the answers to the most common Coronavirus related questions.