Financial support for nurseries for coronavirus / COVID-19

This page includes information on:

  • What financial support is there for my nursery?
  • Funding  
  • Grants
  • Business Rates 
  • The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
  • Flexible Furlough Scheme
  • Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme (C-CAS) - Wales 
  • Do we have to pay employees if they are medically advised to self-isolate?
  • Transitional Support Fund for Scotland nurseries
  • Do I have to pay my staff if I am forced to close suddenly?
  • Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) - Wales
  • Kickstart scheme
  • Bonuses for apprenticeships
  • Traineeships support.

What financial support is there for my nursery?

See all support.


Providers will continue to receive their free entitlement funding for all of the summer term whether they are closed or have stayed open.

The Government has now announced its intention for the early years funding in the autumn term in England.

Department for Education has published guidance on how local authorities can use flexibility in how they allocate early entitlement funding, 

The guidance is clear that any redistribution can only be done in exceptional circumstances and in partnership with their local early years sector. Where possible they must agree any funding changes with providers rather than impose them and also give appropriate notice. 

Councils must also work with providers to understand what changing their funding would mean in terms of you being able to paying for your fixed costs. Any nursery which has its funding reduced can claim for additional staff members on the furlough scheme (CJRS) proportionate to the amount of funding lost.

The DfE has updated its 'Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak guidance' with information for parents on temporary changes to the 30 hours free early education entitlement which means that children of those critical workers whose hours change as a result of the outbreak will still be eligible for places.

In its 'What parents need to know about educational settings during the coronavirus outbreak' guidance , the DfE has added further information for parents regarding the 30 hours funded childcare scheme:

  • Parents who no longer meet the minimum wage requirement for 30 hours places and/or Tax-Free Childcare as a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak will be treated as eligible and should continue to apply for or reconfirm their place
  • The Government intends to allow critical workers - who now exceed the maximum income threshold of £100,000 per year as a result of increasing their hours - to remain eligible for 30 hour places for the current tax year. This is subject to Parliamentary approval
  • All eligible parents are encouraged to apply for a place for their child or reconfirm their child’s existing place even when settings are closed. This will ensure a smooth transition back into childcare once nurseries are fully reopened
  • The DfE has asked local authorities and childcare providers to accept the codes of vulnerable children and children of critical workers who have missed the 31 March deadline so they have a summer term place
  • The DfE will be updating its guidance on 30 hours once a wider reopening takes place.

The Cabinet Secretary, John Swinney issued a letter to Local Authorities (LAs) on 15 May. Ministers and CoSLA Leaders agreed a number of funding flexibility measures on 15 May for LAs, which were detailed in the letter from the Scottish Government to senior LA officials. This includes where local authorities make a critical childcare offer to key worker families and vulnerable families, this should be free at the point of access during the emergency response period. 

This letter provides further information about the extent and nature of these flexibilities for education and early learning and childcare grant funding streams to support learning, critical childcare provision and children and families during the emergency response period. By ‘critical childcare provision’, the Scottish Government means childcare or equivalent arrangements provided by LAs in either Local Authority settings or private, third sector, independent or childminding settings in response to the needs of keyworkers and vulnerable children as defined in 'Coronavirus (COVID19): school and early learning closures – guidance about key workers and vulnerable children', published 31 March 2020.  

On 30 July the Scottish Government published interim guidance on the requirements for ELC settings and local authorities regarding the delivery of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard from August 2020. It features increased flexibility around business sustainability elements and payment of the Living Wage and recognises some of the financial pressures on you as providers and local authorities when looking at how to operate beyond August.

The Welsh Government has published guidance for Local Authorities (LA) and providers, plus a list of frequently asked questions for parents and on the reopening of The Childcare Offer.

This Local Authorities guidance is non-statutory transitional guidance developed to support local authorities in reopening the Childcare Offer for Wales for applications following its suspension on 1 April 2020 as a result of Covid-19.

The provider guidance includes a number of FAQs around what providers must do as a result of reopening applications for 30 hours of early education and childcare for three-and-four-year-olds.

The Parent FAQs direct parents to their local Family Information Service for any questions about the Offer, for example eligibility and how to apply.

Cash grants for small businesses

£10k Grants Available for business which receive Small Business Rate Relief (where your rateable value is less than £15,000). Your local authority should contact you about receiving the grant automatically. Find out more here.

We are pushing for nurseries to be included in the £25,000 cash grants currently only available for retail and leisure businesses.

Local authorities now have access to discretionary funding to support businesses that are struggling to survive due to the coronavirus shutdown but are unable to access other grant funding. The grants available under this fund will be for £25,000, £10,000 or any amount up to £10,000 and each local authority will be responsible for their own scheme and have discretion in determining which businesses they will prioritise.


£10k Grants Available: for small business ratepayers through the Business Support Fund. You need to be a ratepayer eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme but in receipt of Nursery Relief, and with a rateable value up to £18,000. More information here.

Get free support and advice from Business Gateway. Speak to a local adviser over the phone and online. 

A further package of measures has been announced by the Scottish Government which includes £120 million to extend the Small Business Grant scheme to ensure that, in addition to a 100% grant on the first property, small business rate payers will be eligible to a 75% grant on all subsequent properties. Further information from Scottish Government can be found here. 

We are aware that many of you are not eligible for the £10,000 but we continue to lobby both the UK and the Scottish Government to make changes to the eligibility criteria.

A grant of between £25,000 and £100,000 is available to assist qualifying SME’s(between 10 and 249 employees). The grant can only be claimed by businesses that meet the following criteria:

  • Are VAT registered or sector/business exempt from VAT with a turnover greater than £85k, details of VAT exemption can be found here
  • Are headquartered in Wales or have an operating address in Wales that has full decision-making autonomy
  • Have experienced a drop in turnover greater than 60% since 1st March 2020
  • Are able to demonstrate the business / organisation will be sustainable for at least 12 months with a sustainable business plan to trade out of crisis
  • Are viable entities able to confirm some access to funding to cover costs and can demonstrate attempts (successful or otherwise) to secure funding from wider sources (for example a bank, HMRC, Development Bank of Wales, UK Government loan facilities such as the Business Interruption Scheme or direct Bank of England support) before applying for this fund
  • Are able to confirm that funding from any other Welsh Government non-repayable COVID-19 grant funding source is not being pursued*
  • Are able to demonstrate that without additional support the viability of the enterprise will be under threat including the number of jobs this support protects
  • Undertake that for as long as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is in place, they will not make any future compulsory redundancies.

Find out more here

In Wales we are aware of some local authorities that have informed providers that they have not heard of the Business Support Grant for childcare providers and others who have been rejecting applications due to their lack of awareness. If you are coming across this issue refer the local authority to the Support for childcare providers: coronavirus guidance. If the local authority continue to tell you that you are unable to access this grant, please let us know as we are raising these concerns with Business Wales and the Welsh Government.

If organisations wish to discuss the varying options then they can also contact Business Wales.

Business Rates

We have seen further information published on the Business Rates holiday for nurseries in England. This applies to any business on the Ofsted Early Years register where part of the building is used for the delivery of the EYFS.

If you rent your nursery building you may want to contact your landlord to make them aware of this and we have also prepared a template rent holiday request letter you may also wish to use to ask for a rent payment holiday as well. 

Registered childcare providers in Wales receive 100% relief until 31 March 2022.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme was announced at the Budget to support businesses with fewer than 250 staff by allowing them to claim back the costs of paying Coronavirus related SSP. As employers, you should receive a repayment for the relevant rate of SSP for two weeks, that has been paid to current or former employees.

This covers staff who are absent:

  • With a confirmed Coronavirus case or being sick with symptoms
  • Having to self-isolate while being unable to work from home
  • Who are shielding because they’ve been advised that they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

This scheme will apply for an eligible sickness period starting on or after 13 March 2020 and shielding from 16 April. As the SSP rates changed in April you can also use the SSP calculator to work out the actual claim amount.

If you have specific questions or experience difficulties claiming through the scheme you can contact HMRC. However, we have been made away that there will be a lot of demand on these support services as the scheme only opened last week.

Flexible Furlough Scheme

The Chancellor has announced a ’flexible furlough’ scheme. So from 1 July 2020, you now have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part-time – with the government continuing to pay 80% of wages for any of their normal hours they do not work. 

Under the new scheme you can decide the hours and shift patterns that your employees will work on their return and you will be responsible for paying their wages in full for those hours. HMRC has said that there will be no minimum time that you can furlough staff for. 

Any working hours arrangement that you agree with your employee must cover at least one week and be confirmed to the employee in writing. When it comes to submitting a claim you can do this on a monthly basis or you should also be able to make claims on a fortnightly or weekly basis. When you do claim, you will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked. 

If your employees are unable to return to work, or you do not have work for them to do, they can remain on furlough through the original scheme and you can continue to claim the grant for their full hours under the existing rules.

Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme - C-CAS Wales

The childcare offer for Wales has been temporarily replaced by the Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme (C-CAS). Please ensure that you check the parent and provider guidance and speak to your Local Authority for updates on how the C-CAS will work in your area.

C-CAS will close to new entrants from Sunday 12 July. This date relates only to applications for C-CAS from families. Decisions on whether or not to increase the number of providers offering C-CAS will be for local authorities, taking account of both capacity in the sector and the level of demand in their areas.

Families who had registered for CCAS prior to 12 July can access it as needed for the remainder of its term. At this time it remains available where only one parent in a family is a critical worker. However, C-CAS is only available to support critical workers to work. If they are not in work, they should not be accessing childcare funded under C-CAS.

Some local authorities are no longer accepting new applications. Get more information from your local Family Information Service. Funding under C-CAS for older siblings will end at the end of summer term, at the latest (your local authority will decide the closing date). Vulnerable children may be an exception, subject to local authority decision

See CCAS guidance here.

Do we have to pay employees if they are medically advised to self-isolate?

Our legal helpline says:

Employees will be entitled to statutory sick pay if they are advised to self-isolate. Their employment contract may provide for enhanced pay.  

Employees will also be eligible for statutory sick pay if they are self-isolating as a result of members of their household who have Coronavirus symptoms.

Employers with less than 250 members of staff will be reimbursed for any statutory sick pay paid in relation to the first 14 days of sickness related to the Coronavirus.

The Government has suggested that statutory sick pay will be paid from day 1 for absence related to the Coronavirus.  We are waiting for further detail in relation to these provisions.

If an employee is self-isolating – for example if they have asthma or diabetes - but not actually sick, they can be considered for the furlough scheme.

Transitional Support Fund for Scotland nurseries

The Transitional Support Fund will help childcare providers in the private, voluntary and not-for profit sectors, including out-of-school care providers, meet the extra costs incurred to comply with public health guidance in response to COVID-19. The Fund will provide one-off grants to eligible settings. Grant amounts vary according to the number of Care Inspectorate registered places in your setting.

Further information on the Transitional Support Fund including information on eligibility and the levels of grants, is available here.

The Fund will open for applications by the end of August 2020. The last date for submitting a grant application will be Friday 9 October.

Do I have to pay my staff if I am forced to close suddenly?

If you have to close the nursery, generally speaking you would still be obliged to pay employees as you are not meeting your obligation to provide work. If you have a lay-off clause in their contract, you could invoke this in which case the employee would only receive statutory guaranteed pay.

This is currently £29 per day (or less if the employee is paid less) and it is paid for the first week of work lost. It needs to be in the contract though so this should be checked.

As an alternative, the employees could take holiday but this would have to be by agreement as the situation of a sudden closure would not allow the employer to give sufficient notice to compel them to take the holiday.

If you are in any doubt, contact our legal helpline for members.

Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) - Wales

The next phase of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) was announced 9 June. The Welsh Government has stated this phase of the ERF is being targeted at microbusinesses, SMEs and large businesses of critical economic importance, which have yet to receive financial assistance from the ERF. 

See more information on eligibility criteria and an online eligibility checker.

Kickstart scheme

Under this scheme the Government will directly pay employers to create new jobs for any 16-24 year old at risk of long-term unemployment. They will pay young people’s wages up to 25 hours a week for six months, plus an amount to cover overheads. Employers will be able to top that amount up if full time work is needed. Read more in the summer statement here.

Bonuses for apprenticeships

The Government announced grants of £2,000 for companies taking on apprentices and £1,500 for apprentices over 25. Read more in the summer statement here.

Traineeships support

A £111 million investment to triple the scale of traineeships in 2020-21 for more young people have access to high quality training. Read more in the summer statement here.

See all coronavirus support  

Disclaimer:  Any information above from our legal helpline is provided for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities.  This should not be treated as formal legal advice and no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Our legal helpline makes every reasonable effort to ensure this information is accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.