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Coronavirus: Early Education Funding Arrangements for Childcare Settings

12th February 2021

Headcount Claims

As there has been no change to government policy we are continuing with the arrangements to pay you if a place is available for a child. So your headcount claim should be for children who are attending your setting and for those children where parents have decided not to send their child to your setting. We won’t pay for children who are not able to access their place at your setting.

As a result please review and update your headcount claim on the provider portal. We require you to do so before 26th February in order to ensure you are paid correctly on 18th March. Only re-submit your claim if there are changes, please don’t resubmit if your claim is correct.

If a parent wants their child to take up a funded place and cannot access their place at their existing setting then we will allow them to move straight away to a new setting that has space without the usual notice period. Therefore it is essential that the setting who cannot offer a place reduces their claim in order to allow the new setting to claim.

Please note, if we are given instruction by the Department for Education to follow a different process you will be informed straight away.

Inclusion Fund

It has been agreed that we will continue to pay settings for children approved for the Inclusion Funding. If a child is not attending your setting we will continue to pay unless they have moved to another setting.

Inclusion Fund payments will be made before the end of the Spring term. Please ensure your headcount claim is correct for all children as we use this data to pay you correctly.

11th January 2021

We are receiving a number of enquiries regarding the impact on Early Education Funding following the latest wave of COVID-19 and the national lockdown.

We would like to clarify the position of Solihull Council at the moment which is subject to any further guidance and instruction we receive from the Department for Education.

We understand that the current restriction will impact on the number of children attending childcare settings and School Nurseries. However the government have advised that Early years provision should continue to remain open and should continue to allow all children to attend full time or their usual timetable hours.

Solihull Council will continue to pay Early Education Funding where children are still attending or if a place has been offered at the beginning of term but the parent doesn’t currently want to send their child to your settings because of COVID-19. It has been agreed that we will provide funding up to February half term for these children who are not attending due to parents keeping them at home (12th February 2021). We will review this at half term based on any further government guidance but I hope for now this gives you reassurance that you will receive funding up to half term for children who are not attending due to parent choice.

If you close or have taken a decision to reduce the number of places/sessions available then we will not pay funding for those children who cannot access their funding. This is in line with current government guidance which states that the existing funding arrangements are in place and you should remain open and funding should only be awarded for hours delivered. For example, if you decide to open for mornings only but previously you opened all day then we will not pay for the afternoon funding if children cannot attend. This will allow children to move to another setting without notice being served if they cannot access their agreed funding at a setting.

Headcount Claim

Please submit your headcount claim for those children attending and children who are currently off due to parents keeping them at home. Please submit your funding for these children based on the full term and if funding isn’t in place for the 2nd half of term for non-attenders we will be in contact in due course to explain what action you need to take.

If you are closed or delivering fewer sessions then we will not currently pay funding for those sessions not delivered so you will need to reduce your claim. For children who are not able to access their full funding please only claim for the sessions you are delivering.

We appreciate that you may have questions regarding your circumstances. Please contact myself or Sarah Maflahi (0121 704 6614) who will be able to advise on your headcount claim which is due by 29th January 2021. Please bear with us if you leave us a message as we are currently dealing with a high volume of queries.

We are still expecting further guidance from the Department of Education but I hope the above gives you some short term certainty and allows you to submit your headcount claim. We will confirm the arrangements for the rest of term as soon as possible. Solihull Councils position is to continue to follow the guidance from the Department for Education as we have throughout the pandemic.

Advance Payments

We have processed advance payments based on your estimate submitted so these payments will arrive in your bank account by Thursday 14th January at the latest.

Inclusion Fund

We will follow the same procedure as Summer 2020 term in that we will pay Inclusion Fund for those children still attending. If a child is not accessing their Early Education Funding place then we will not pay Inclusion Fund this term.

4th August 2020

Autumn 2020 Early Education Funding Arrangements

The government have asked us to ensure that in Autumn 2020 term you are paid at least the amount of early education funding that you claimed for in Autumn 2019 term. This means:

  • if you are open and claiming funding for Autumn 2020 term that equals less than the total funding you received for Autumn 2019 term, we will make an additional adjustment payment following your headcount submission to ensure the funding you receive in total in Autumn 2020 matches the total amount of cash funding you received for Autumn 2019 term.
  • if you are open and claiming funding for Autumn 2020 term that equals the same or more than the total cash funding you received for Autumn 2019 term we will simply fund you as normal without making any adjustments.

We therefore require you to submit your estimate and headcount data as normal for the children booked in to attend in Autumn 2020 and we will then check the total funding paid to you at headcount and then make an additional adjustment payment if appropriate.

Please note the total funding figure we will use for your setting for Autumn 2019 includes any funding you received for EYPP and DAF as this is paid as part of the headcount payment – it does not include any funding you received for Inclusion Fund, this will be dealt with as a separate adjustment as normal, and will be paid out only for children who have been approved and are attending your setting that term.

Examples:

We have provided some examples below for information:

  • If your Autumn 2019 total headcount payment including DAF and EYPP totalled £10,000 and your Autumn 2020 headcount total only comes to £9,000 then following your headcount submission we will make an additional payment of £1,000 in November 2020 to bring you back up to £10,000 funding – so the funding you receive in Autumn 2020 will then match the funding you received in Autumn 2019.
  • If your Autumn 2019 total headcount payment including DAF and EYPP totalled £20,000 and your Autumn 2020 headcount total  comes to £23,000 then you will be paid £23,000 as this is higher than what you received in Autumn 2019 – you will therefore not receive a further funding payment in November 2020.

Closed Settings:

If you are forced to close during the Autumn 2020 term due to public health reasons then we will continue to pay you Early Education Funding. However if you are closed for non-public health reasons then will not make payments. Please contact Solihull FIS immediately if you close, for any reason, so that we can advise you on the impact this will have on your Autumn 2020 funding.

If you reopen during the term but have claimed for children from the start of term, we will expect you to deliver those funded hours you have claimed for before you can put in a claim for any additional children.

Children not attending:

If you have claimed for 1,000hrs and you are only providing care of 800hrs due to children not attending then if a child needs a funded place we would expect you to offer the place without putting in an additional claim as this would come out of the hours you have already claimed. If you are providing care of 1,000hrs which is the number of hours you have claimed for and an additional child requires a place that would take you over and above 1,000hrs you may then submit an additional claim for that child.

Next steps:

Please submit your estimate and headcount claim as normal for Autumn 2020 based on the children you have booked in to attend. We will make the necessary adjustments to your funding payments In November 2020 to ensure a 3rd payment is made for those who receive less funding at headcount than received in Autumn 2019.

Please Note:

30 hours – the deadline for new parent applications to HMRC is 31st August 2020. Please ensure parents apply before this date, preferably ASAP to ensure no delays. The government have confirmed some temporary changes to the 30 hours policy to say that any parents who lose their income and fail to meet the minimum income threshold due to COVID-19 will be treated as still being eligible for 30 hours. Also Critical workers who exceed the maximum income threshold due to working additional hours in response to the outbreak will also remain eligible. Please direct parents to HMRC on 0300 389 8667 to discuss circumstances as HMRC process 30 hours applications and renewals. Parents must still meet the 31st August 2020 deadline to qualify for a 30hrs place in September 2020.

1st June 2020

We have already outlined our funding expectation.  Funded settings can accept new children, who cannot take up their funding at their usual setting, with no additional money paid to the new setting, where the addition of the new child is within the number of places already being paid for by the LA.

We are now looking at the arrangements for the wider reopening of childcare settings which will enable more families to return to their childcare places. We recognise that the current government guidance still makes things tricky for some families to go back to their original arrangements where the child was attending more than 1 setting. These arrangements are temporary for the summer term only and are for eligible EEF children only.

Where a child usually attended 2 settings for their funded hours, but is unable to do so at present, we will allow settings to temporarily increase their offer of funded hours this term to these children. If the additional hours offered still falls within the total hours the setting have claimed for summer term we will allow a temporary increase in hours without you needing to seek permission or send in any further paperwork. This will then enable a child to return to their usual 2 setting arrangement later in the term or when situations allow. If you can offer additional hours to a child already attending your setting, where their other setting is temporarily unable to offer their usual hours, but this would then take you over the total current hours you have claimed for the term, please contact us to discuss further and we can go through the process of how to claim for these hours where appropriate. Please see examples below to clarify:

If you are offering additional hours temporarily to one of your funded children, as they are unable to currently take up these hours at their other setting, the arrangements are as follows:

  1. If you have claimed / received funding for 500 hours for children for the summer term but are only currently providing 400 hours of care to your funded children due to a reduction in demand for childcare. and  1 of your existing funded children who usually takes up some funding elsewhere asks you for an additional 15 funded hours, and you can offer the hours, then we would expect you to offer care as this is still within your funded total of 500 hours for the term. You will not need to contact us to do this or send in any additional paperwork.
  2. If you have claimed / received funding for 500 hours for children for summer term and are already providing 500 hours of care to your funded children and 1 of your existing funded children who usually takes up some funding elsewhere asks you for an additional 15 funded hours, we would ask you to contact us to discuss this. If appropriate we would then advise you on how to put in a claim for these additional hours.

If the above point 2 occurs we would not expect the parent to give notice at their existing (closed/ reduced capacity) setting as they will be paid for funding as normal. You will be paid as well as the existing setting and the child will keep their place at the existing/ original setting for when they re-open. We won’t however pay a notice period for those children temporarily going to a new setting so once the child returns to their existing setting then funding will cease at the temporary setting.

Parents can give notice to their existing (closed) setting if point 1 occurs however you will need to wait until notice is served (up to 4 weeks) before you can make a claim for funding. The parent will need to be certain that they want to end their place at the existing setting before giving notice as there is no guarantee that a place will be available again after the 4 weeks’ notice e.g. if they want care during the Summer holidays at the existing setting they might not have a space available for a child who has left.

Inclusion Funding

Where you have a child approved for inclusion funding at your setting we will be contacting you via your EYSAT Area SENCO to check if they are currently attending or intending on returning this term. As Inclusion Funding is to support the child to be included in a setting they attend we will not be able to pay out Inclusion Funding this term if the child is not attending. Where they started late in the term we will fund for the hours and weeks they have attended only. If a child has temporarily moved setting due to their usual setting being closed we will fund the setting where the child is attending.

We hope to support families to return to work, and children to early education, by enabling them to return to their  settings. We realise early education and care will look very different now and that you are putting a lot of new processes in place to ensure the safety of both children and staff. We therefore really appreciate your support with making things as easy as possible for families during this difficult time.

22nd May 2020

On 27th March we communicated to you that, in line with government guidance, we would be continuing to pay out early education funding to all funded settings. This would be for children that were booked in to attend in the summer term even though settings were undergoing an enforced closure to all but vulnerable and keyworker children.

At this stage Solihull MBC are continuing to fund early years settings for the summer term as agreed and advance payments were paid earlier to support settings who were remaining open. However, we do need to be mindful of the new government guidance issued on 11th May where the message changed from “all providers must close to all but vulnerable and keyworker children” to a message asking early years providers to look to reopen to all children from 1st June 2020.

In the light of this changing national guidance, we feel it right to signal to you that where settings feel they cannot reopen in June and therefore cannot meet their parental demand for childcare places the local authority may need to consider moving early education funding from a closed provider to an open provider who can offer care to those children. We will continue to work according to government guidance and will therefore be keeping our early education funding position under permanent review. We will provide further updates in due course when we receive further government guidance. At this stage we want to signal that moving funding is a possibility, but would not be done automatically or lightly.

The guidance to local authorities states “Only in exceptional circumstances, when these options have been exhausted, may local authorities consider using their flexibility to redistribute funding for the free early education entitlements in a clearly focussed and targeted way from providers who have closed to those who are open and caring for eligible children, where necessary during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak”.

Current Government Guidance is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-coronavirus-covid-19

As we receive further guidance from the government, we will, of course, update our approach and communicate that to you.

27th March 2020 

Thank you all for your continued support you are providing to your vulnerable and keyworker children during this very difficult time. We have had a few queries from settings about funded children and following discussion with other Local Authorities and the updated government guidance please see our updated guidance below for Solihull:

We expect funded settings with few children attending to accept new children who cannot take up their funding at their usual setting with no additional money paid to the new setting, where the addition of the new child is within the number of places already being paid for by the LA.

If you are taking on MORE funded children than you have claimed for / been funded for, then we WILL fund you for these additional children at normal rates. See examples below:

  1. If you have claimed / received funding for 10 children from EEF grant, but are only currently caring for 3 key worker/vulnerable children, we would expect if 2 more new children turn up, that you offer care as this is still within your funded total of 10 children.
  2. If you have claimed / received funding for 10 children from EEF grant and are currently caring for 10 funded children, we would expect if another child needs a place for you to claim for the new child either as a LATE STARTER if still during spring term or add them to your Summer headcount if for the summer term.

If the above point 2 occurs we would not expect the parent to give notice at their existing (closed) setting as they will be paid for funding as normal. You will be paid as well as the existing setting and the child will keep their place at the existing setting for when they re-open. We won’t however pay a notice period for those children temporary going to a new setting so once the child returns to their existing setting then funding will cease at the temporary setting.

If you are receiving enquiries from families who pay for care usually (not funded children) then this is a private arrangement as part of your usual business. If a parent has already paid for care at a setting that is now closed and you can offer a place, please provide the place and let us know and we will look into funding you for the overlap until the parent can pay you.

Regarding the Easter holidays we don’t usually fund children so the usual rules would apply. parents would therefore pay for care. If we receive any further information from the government on this issue we will let you know.

The main objective here is to support our keyworkers to enable them to work and we appreciate your support with making things as easy as possible for them regarding their childcare needs during this difficult time.

Eligibility for government childcare offers protected

The government has announced new temporary measures to ensure critical workers will still be eligible for childcare offers if their income has changed due to coronavirus. Parents who are normally eligible for 30 hours will continue receiving their entitlement during the summer term.

The 30 hours deadline for reconfirming parent codes for the summer term has now been extended to 31 August 2020 to give working parents additional time to protect their place.

Any settings who are unable to submit a 30 hour code for a parent who was eligible in spring term due to the code having expired please contact us on eefenquiries@solihull.gov.uk so that we can support you with your claim.

Further government information about these protections can be found by selecting this link.

Foundation Years hosted a video podcast with DfE to answer your questions on these funding arrangements.

The vodcast covers:

  • DSG funding flexibility for local authorities
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme calculations, including a worked example
  • Interaction between DSG funding flexibility and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme