UK Government guidance on COVID-19
Please note the Montessori Group cannot provide advice or guidance to individuals or settings, the following is drawn directly from the Government guidance documents and reflects questions being raised during the recent Talking Montessori webinars.
Guidance changes on a daily basis; it’s important to keep yourself updated by registering with Gov.uk to receive their emails. Stay in contact with your local authority, and don’t wait for them to contact you with updates. Now, more than ever, it’s important to be proactive!
The information below is drawn from Government guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Early Years and Childcare Closures, updated 1 April 2020.
What are some of the key messages I should take from Government guidance on COVID-19?
- Government will continue to pay for free early years entitlement places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds even if settings were closed on the advice of the government, or children were not able to attend due to coronavirus. They expect local authorities to continue early entitlements funding for all childminders, schools and nurseries.
- Childcare providers will be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year. That means non-local authority providers of childcare (registered with Ofsted and providing EYFS) will pay no business rates in 2020 to 2021, from 1 April. Local authorities will be working on this.
- Nurseries in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief will benefit from small business grant funding of £10,000. This includes nurseries who are eligible for a charitable status relief.
- Some settings operate from shared spaces which may now benefit from a 100% rates relief. Those shared spaces are strongly advised to reflect any business rates saving in their rent charges.
- The Business Interruption Loan Scheme will now be interest-free for 12 months.
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means that for employees who are not working but kept on payroll, the government will contribute 80% of each worker’s wages of up to £2,500, backdated to 1 March 2020. Settings can access this scheme while continuing to be paid the early entitlements funding via local authorities.
- Employers can use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.
- The scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020.
- Staff will need to remain on furlough for a minimum of 3 weeks. However, an employer can place staff on furlough more than once, and one period can follow straight after an existing furlough period, while the scheme is open.
- The online service you’ll use to claim is not available yet. It is expected to be available by the end of April 2020.
- The Self-employment Income Support Scheme for those who are self-employed or members of a partnership and have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19). The scheme allows individuals to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for 3 months. HMRC will contact individuals who are eligible and invite them to apply online.
- For the self-employed (including childminders), the minimum income floor will also be temporarily relaxed, meaning Universal Credit can be accessed at a rate to match statutory sick pay (SSP).
- Once you are on furlough you will not be able to work for your employer. You can undertake training or volunteer subject to public health guidance, as long as you’re not:
- making money for your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
- providing services to your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
- If workers are required to, for example, complete training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least their appropriate minimum wage (NLW, NMW or AMW) for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised
- Furloughed employees should be encouraged to undertake training, as long as in undertaking the training the employee does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of their organisation.
- Government are asking all childcare settings, including childminders, to provide care for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers where possible. Local authorities will work with local settings to determine the best way to support vulnerable children and the children of critical workers.
- Childcare settings who are experiencing staff shortages should work with their local authority to identify how appropriate provision can be put in place. They can pool staff with another setting, or take on qualified and DBS-checked staff from other educational settings (including local registered childminders) which have been closed, or invite local registered childminders to work with them at the setting. Registered childminders can already do this under the 50/50 registration flexibility they have.
- Settings should work with local authorities to monitor the welfare of vulnerable children who are not attending provision, and other children they might wish to keep in touch with, for safeguarding purposes.
- More information is available here: Staying open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children