Shocking guidance: nurseries cannot fully access EY funding and furlough scheme

In a shock move this evening, the Government announced that early years providers will not be able to fully access funding from the Job Retention Scheme and the early years entitlement funding. 

After a long wait, the Government has finally published more details of how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will apply in early years. 

NDNA has condemned the move as “total disregard for the fantastic work nurseries are doing”. The decision will lead to many more nurseries closing and therefore unable to care for the most vulnerable children and those of critical workers.

The new guidance confirms that a private provider should only furlough employees, and seek support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, if they meet the following conditions: 
·        the employee works in an area of business where services are temporarily not required and where their salary is not covered by public funding; 
·        the employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off; 
·        the employee is not involved in delivering provision that has already been funded (free entitlement funding); 
·        (where appropriate) the employee is not required to deliver provision for a child of a critical worker and/or vulnerable child; and 
·        the grant from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would not be duplicative to other public grants received and would not lead to financial reserves being created. 

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “This comes as a huge shock to the sector which is relying on both the Job Retention Scheme and early years funding entitlement to be able to survive this crisis.

“Many nurseries that have remained open to critical workers’ children are doing so at a huge financial loss.
“The Government does not appear to have early years on their agenda, which is appalling at a time when early years providers have stepped up to deliver the care that’s desperately needed for critical workers. 

“They are themselves the fourth emergency service: key workers caring for key workers. This is a total disregard for the fantastic work early years providers are doing, risking their own safety every day to keep the country going. The Government does not appear to acknowledge or recognise this.

“NDNA has been lobbying government departments hard for the past few weeks for further financial support and more clarity on these two schemes. This will have a detrimental effect on the sector and will lead to many staff being made redundant and many more nurseries being forced to close, both now and into the future. This will cause a huge disruption to children and families when the lockdown is relaxed.

“The Government’s main objectives are to ensure sufficient places for key workers’ children and vulnerable children right now and to ensure there is a robust sector available once the crisis has abated. This move puts in jeopardy the direction of travel they claim is of paramount importance and will leave the sector questioning their motives.

“Local authorities underspent early years funding by £63.5 million in 2018-19 and reported contingencies of £32 million in 2018-19 and £26 million in 2019-20. This money should be used to provide additional support to early years at a critical time like this.”

NDNA will be meeting urgently with DfE on Monday to challenge them on their decision and the impact this will have on the early years sector.

Read the full guidance here