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Government shares early years funding plans for autumn term

By Rachel Lawlerearly years funding autumn 2020

The Department for Education (DfE) has shared its plans for early years funding for the autumn term 2020 and beyond.

The new guidelines explain that local authority funding for the autumn term 2020 will be based on data from the January 2020 census. The DfE says this is in recognition of the fact the number of children attending settings may not have returned to normal levels by January 2021.

Closed settings
The guidelines also explain that in the autumn term local authorities will be expected to continue funding providers who are open as they would usually be, as well as those who have "had no option but to close" due to "public health reasons". 

From the start of the autumn term, local authorities "should not fund providers which are closed without public health reason".

January 2020 census
The DfE says that it intends to fund settings "as if autumn term 2020 were happening normally". It says that local authorities should use the number of children in funded places in previous autumn terms to inform funding levels. 

In "exceptional circumstances" local authorities will be able to "redirect early years dedicated schools grant from providers that are closed" in order to ensure that there is childcare available for key worker families and vulnerable children.

Flexibility
The DfE guidance also encourages local authorities to consider increasing the frequency of payments to providers from termly to monthly to allow for adjustments as providers reopen.

January 2021
The DfE has also stated that it expects the early years funding process to return to normal from January 2021 onwards, although it says this will be "kept under review" in the meantime.

Funding needed
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "We welcome today's announcement on free entitlement funding as a step in the right direction. However, let us be clear that this on its own, will do little to ease the concerns of thousands of providers who fear closure in twelve months time. 

"For weeks now, we have been calling on the government to provide the urgent transitional funding the sector desperately needs to survive and today's decision, while positive, can be no substitute for that. 

"We urge the government to follow up today's announcement with a commitment to providing the sector with the short-term funding it desperately needs. Without it, the sobering reality is that thousands more nurseries, pre-schools and childminders will face no choice but to close their doors for good."

Find out more
Read the latest guidance in full
Read the Alliance's report, The Forgotten Sector
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