Thank you for contacting me about the impact of coronavirus on childcare and on self-employed childminders.
In March the Government asked early years providers to close to all but the children of critical workers and vulnerable children, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. From the week commencing 1st June at the earliest, nurseries and other early years providers may be able to begin welcoming back all children. Early years settings will be asked to implement a range of protective measures including increased cleaning, reducing ‘pinch points’ (such as parents dropping children off at the start and end of day), and utilising outdoor space. This approach is in line with other countries across Europe, who have begun to bring pre-school and school-age children back in a phased way and are focusing on primary schools and younger children.
Priority groups, including vulnerable children and children of critical workers who have been eligible to attend throughout school closures, will continue to be able to attend early years settings as they are currently.
I recognise that the closures will have had a big impact on providers. A range of support has been made available, including a business rates holiday for one year. That means non-local authority providers of childcare will pay no business rates in 2020-21, from 1st April. The Secretary of State for Education has also confirmed that the Department for Education will continue to fully fund local authorities for free childcare entitlements.
Like all early years providers, childminders were asked to close and should only provide places for vulnerable children or the children of critical workers.
To align with the Government’s position on nannies, from Wednesday 13th May the guidance for early years settings has been updated to confirm that paid childcare can be provided to the children of one household. This includes childminders, who may choose to look after the children of one household, if they are not already looking after vulnerable children or those of critical workers. From 1st June 2020, childminders can look after children of all ages, in line with their current Ofsted registration, and within usual limits on the number of children they can care for.
Childminders can access the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. This allows self-employed workers, including childminders, to claim a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
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.
I hope this has reassured you that support has been rolled out as a matter of urgency.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.