Financial support for nurseries for coronavirus / COVID-19

This page includes information on:

  • What financial support is there for my nursery?
  • Funding
    • Discretionary funding
    • Flexibility over parental eligibility for Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours
  • Grants
  • Business Rates 
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)  
  • The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
  • Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme (C-CAS) - Wales 
  • Do we have to pay employees if they are medically advised to self-isolate?
  • Do I have to pay my staff if I am forced to close suddenly?
  • Kickstart scheme
  • Bonuses for apprenticeships
  • Traineeships support
  • Self-isolation Support Scheme - Scotland
  • Test and Trace support payment for parents
  • £1,000 incentive to offer student placements - England.

What financial support is there for my nursery?

  • Statutory Sick Pay to be paid from day one of self-isolation/illness - The cost of providing up to two weeks of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for those with coronavirus / COVID-19 or those in the same household as someone who has tested positive will be refunded by the government in full for businesses with fewer than 250 employees. You can only claim a maximum of two weeks for each employee.
  • Recovery Loan Scheme Businesses of any size can access loans and other kinds of finance from £25,000 up to £10 million per business which can be used for any part of the business, including growth and investment. The government will guarantee 80% of the finance to the lender to ensure they continue to have the confidence to lend to businesses. The scheme is open until 31 December 2021, subject to review.
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is due to last until the end of September 2021. Businesses are asked to contribute 10% of employee wages from July, and 20% in August and September. It is open to new entrants so long as they were employed on 30 October 2020
  • Self-employment Income Support Scheme 
  • Business rates holiday for nurseries in England until the end of June 2021. For the remaining nine months of the year nurseries’ business rates will be subject to a two-thirds reduction. This should be applied automatically but if you have been billed incorrectly contact the billing authority immediately.
  • Small Business Grant scheme in Scotland
  • Kickstart scheme
  • Bonuses for apprenticeships in England
  • Apprenticeship funding in Wales
  • Traineeships support
  • Self-isolation Support Scheme - Scotland
  • Help to Grow – SMEs can get management training through business schools mentoring programmes with Government covering 90% of the cost
  • Help to Grow digital – small businesses can get free expert training and 50% discount on productivity enhancing software worth up to £5k each
  • Development Bank of Wales

See all support.



Spring/autumn funding 2021
The DfE has temporarily varied its approach to measuring headcounts over the next financial year to give local authorities and providers more protection over their funding income. In the summer and autumn terms 2021, DfE will ask local authorities to provide attendance data and will fund each council based on attendance data for each respective term, rather than basing decisions on the January census. Nurseries and childminders who deliver the early education entitlements for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds will be paid by their local authority in the usual way for the hours they deliver. The updated funding policy guidance can be found here.

On 30 October the Scottish Government published guidance on the requirements for ELC settings and local authorities regarding the delivery of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard from August 2021. 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.
Children who attend settings will continue to benefit from their ELC funded entitlement or to pay for additional childcare, according to their usual pattern of attendance. While operating during this period early learning and childcare settings, childminding services and school aged childcare settings should continue to operate in line with the current core guidance for your setting type and local authority protection level which can be found here.

Foundation Phase and Childcare Offer funding
After years of lobbying and evidence from NDNA Cymru we are delighted that the Welsh Government has announced that it will give funding to local authorities to align the Foundation Phase rate to the Childcare Offer of £4.50. Find out more.
The childcare offer for Wales provider guidance includes a number of FAQs to support providers in delivering the 30 hours of early education and childcare for 3 and 4 year olds.

Childcare Offer funding may continue to be paid based on booked hours in some circumstances where Covid-19 is causing disruption to childcare services. Your local authority may also be able to provide some funding to help with additional costs or loss in income which you are facing as a result of Covid-19. You should contact your local authority and discuss this with them.

The Parent Childcare Offer guidance provides a number of faqs to provide support to parents about what to do if they have applied for or want to apply for 30 hours of early education and childcare for 3 and 4 year olds. The guidance directs parents to their local Family Information Service for any questions about the Offer, for example eligibility and how to apply.

Flexibility over parental eligibility for Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours

HMRC and DfE have announced that working parents who receive support through a Government COVID-19 related support scheme (such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or Self-Employment Income Support Scheme) will still be eligible for childcare support through Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) and 30 hours free childcare, even if they or their partner’s income falls below the normal minimum requirement.

This support will align with the duration of the support schemes.

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

Further measures include £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.  For up to date information on all financial support available please go to the Find Business Support website. 

Get free support and advice from Business Wales, information about the support and grants available can be found on the COVID 19 - Support for Businesses website.

Contact your Local Authority or Family Information Service to enquire about local grants that may be available. 

Business Rates

The Business Rates holiday for all nurseries in England ended June 2021. This applied to any business on the Ofsted Early Years register where part of the building is used for the delivery of the EYFS. For the remaining nine months of the financial year business rate for nurseries will be subject to a two-thirds reduction.
Nursery Rates Relief
will be extended until at least June 2023. Qualifying day nurseries will continue to benefit from 100% relief on non-domestic rates.
Registered childcare providers in Wales receive 100% relief until 31 March 2022.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme:

From July, the UK Government will only pay 70% of employees' usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,187.50. 

You will need to pay the 10% difference in July, and 20% in August and September. Plan ahead using the CJRS calculator.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme supports businesses with fewer than 250 staff by allowing them to claim back the costs of paying Coronavirus related SSP. Employers should receive a repayment for SSP for a maximum of two weeks.

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.

You can also use the SSP calculator to work out the actual claim amount.

If you have specific questions or experience difficulties claiming, contact HMRC

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.

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.

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 about the scheme and how to apply.

Bonuses for apprenticeships

The Government announced grants of £3,000 for companies taking on apprentices of all ages. Read more in the spring Budget announcement here.


Employers will receive £3,000 for new apprentices of any age who join their organisation from 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021. Read more about the eligibility criteria of apprentices for the employer payments.  

Businesses in Wales can claim up to £4,000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25. The £4,000 incentive, aimed at helping Wales to recover from the impact of COVID-19, will be available to businesses that are employing a young apprentice for at least 30 hours per week. Welsh businesses could also receive £2000 for each new under 25 year old apprentice they employ for less than 30 hours a week. For workers aged 25 and over, businesses can access £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire on a 30 hour or more contract, and a £1,000 incentive for apprentices working less than 30 hours. Payments will be restricted to ten learners per business. The service will be available to all employers and learners and is aimed at enhancing and strengthening Wales’ Apprenticeship Programme. Find out more 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.  

Self-isolation Support Scheme - Wales

The Self-isolation support scheme in Wales, which provides a payment of £500 to those on low incomes who are required to self-isolate and will lose earnings as a result. It is also available for parents and carers on low incomes with children who are self-isolating. Parents and carers are not eligible if the child has been told to isolate by the NHS COVID 19 app but must have been formally told to self-isolate by either:

  • NHS Wales Test, Trace Protect service
  • your child’s school
  • your child’s further education setting
  • your child’s childcare setting (crèche, nursery)
Self-isolation Support Scheme - Scotland

The Minister for Housing and Local Government has announced the expansion of the Self-Isolation Support Scheme to include parents and carers of children who have been asked to self-isolate. The self-isolation support scheme administered by local authorities provides up to £500 to individuals on low incomes who are required to self-isolate due to a positive test result or because they have been identified as a close contact of a positive case by Test Trace Protect (TPP).

To support this we have produced a draft template letter notifying parents/carers that their child is a confirmed contact of a positive case at the setting and must self–isolate. It contains advice about self-isolation and provides a date (to be completed by the setting) that the child can return to the setting. This way parents/carers of children in childcare settings would have the same option as parents/carers of children in school when applying for a self-isolation payment – TTP reference or the letter advising the parent/carer that their child must isolate.

Test and Trace support payment for parents

Parents and carers of children who have been advised to self-isolate by their education setting or by NHS Test and Trace are now able to apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment of £500, if they meet the eligibility criteria. Applications for the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme are made via the local authority in which the parent or carer resides.

£1,000 incentive to offer student placements - England

The Government launched a new incentive scheme which will give providers a cash boost to provide T level placements.

The new T levels are equivalent of three A levels. Students must spend at least 45 days or 315 hours with an employer. The £1,000 is designed to support employers impacted by the pandemic and make sure there are sufficient placements for students. 

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.