Business advice - common questions

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We know the early years sector is understandably extremely worried about the impact of Covid-19 on their families and future sustainability.

We know there are many more questions about how childminders, nurseries and pre-schools will be supported and we're continuing to raise these to government. 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS), or furlough scheme, and Self-employed Income Support Scheme, have both now ended.

To see what business support is currently available please visit: Financial Support

Read a summary of the March 2021 Budget.

Or view the full collection of March 2021 Budget documents.

What business support is available for childcare providers?

Business rates relief

Business rates: The business rates holiday for early years providers was extended until 30 June 2021, alongside other eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties. There is now a 66% rate relief until 31 March 2022, with a cap of £105,000 per business for those businesses that were not required to close as of 5 January 2021.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was financial support for employees who are were working but kept on payroll (furloughed), where the government contributed the majority of each worker’s wages of up to £2,500, backdated to 1 March 2020. This scheme has now ended.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was financial support for those who are self-employed or members of a partnership and had lost income due to Covid-19.

The scheme allowed individuals to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for 3 months.

This scheme has now ended.

To see what other business support is available please see: Financial Support

Other support
  • Tax rates: Corporation tax will rise to 25% from 19% from April 2023 on profits over £250,000. However, this will not apply to businesses with profits less than £50,000 and there will be additional relief for businesses with profits under £250,000. From 2022, the personal income tax allowance of £12,570 will be frozen until 2026, rather than rising in line with inflation.  

  • Apprenticeships and training: Employers who hire a new apprentice between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021 will receive a direct payment of £3,000 per new hire, compared with £1,500 per new apprentice hire (or £2,000 for those aged 24 and under) under the previous scheme. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government provides for all new 16-18 year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan, where that applies. Portable apprenticeships will also be extended. 

  • Sick pay and isolation: The Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate Scheme will continue so employers with fewer than 250 employees will still be able to reclaim up to two weeks of eligible SSP costs per employee. 

    Providers can claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees who are off sick, self isolating or shielding because of coronavirus on or before 30 September 2021. You can claim up to 2 weeks of SSP for every eligible employee. You’re eligible to claim if your business is both based in the UK and has had fewer than 250 employees since 28 February 2020. You must submit or amend claims on or before 31 December 2021.

  • Support to create job placements: Kickstart Scheme The Kickstart Scheme gives business owners financial support to create new 6-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. The scheme is open to all organisations. Check if you can apply for a Kickstart Grant

  • The Recovery Loan Scheme This scheme is to help businesses of any size access loans and other kinds of finance so they can recover after the pandemic and transition period. The amount offered will be at the discretion of participating lenders. The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender, but you will still be responsible for your debt. The scheme is open until 31 December 2021, subject to review. Find out if your business is eligible for the Recovery Loan Scheme.

  • For further information on what support may be available to you please see: Financial Support


Early entitlement funding in 2021

The Department for Education has confirmed that during the autumn term 2021, funding will be based on termly attendance counts.

The full guidance can be found here.

Other questions

How do I deal with staff who cannot or choose not to attend work? 

As early years settings have been able to remain open to all families since 1 June 2021, there is no change to the expectation that staff attend work on their normal scheduled shifts and observe all the protocols settings have in place. These include social distancing between staff and between staff and parents, sanitisation of equipment, surfaces and rooms and hand hygiene, and are all in place to minimise the risk of contracting or transmitting Covid-19.

However, there may be situations where staff must not attend the workplace, cannot attend the workplace or are choosing not to attend the workplace and how those absences are treated will depend upon the reasons behind them.

Further guidance on how to deal with these staff absences can be found here. Alliance members can also receive free legal advice from the Law-Call helpline; details of which can be found within the members’ area.

If parents' income changes due to the impact of Covid-19, are they still eligible for the 30 hours entitlement?

Parents who are normally eligible for the government’s childcare offers will continue receiving the entitlements if their income levels fall due to the impact of coronavirus until 31 October 2021.

The government has announced that any working parent usually eligible for 30 hours funded childcare or Tax-Free Childcare will remain eligible if they fall below the minimum income requirement due to COVID-19. Subject to Parliamentary approval, parents who are critical workers will also remain eligible for these entitlements if their income has increased over the maximum threshold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the guidance here

Can I delay paying my fees to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)?

If your renewal date is coming up and you are unable to pay your fees please get in touch with their registration department as soon as possible, so that they can make a note against their registration and see if they are able to stop the payment being taken, if you pay by direct debit. Once the current situation is over, the ICO will contact you to seek payment and it will be back-paid to your original renewal date.

What should I be communicating with Ofsted?

You can keep up to date with any updates from Ofsted here.


Our FAQs are not an exhaustive list of points for consideration. This is an moving situation for providers and the wider sector.  For this reason, you should seek legal advice (Alliance members can access free legal advice as part of their membership, contact details are available in the members’ area).

We are also seeking further clarification from the DfE on a number of areas to ensure we are completely clear about implications for employers and employees. We will continually update these FAQs on our website as new information or further guidance is made available. 

While many employers will be pragmatic, we know that they will work hard to protect the interests of their employees. 

Any employer should be aware that if they fail to follow employment law requirements, their actions could potentially result in employment claims.

We have another FAQs for general operations of your early years business here.

Government financial support 

Financial Support

Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children’s social care

Use of 'free' early education entitlements funding during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Small Business Grant 

Business rates: Nursery discount

Covid 19: Support for businesses


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