Coronavirus childcare information

Many people are concerned about the Government advice on childcare access given the lockdown. Here we give the latest Government position.

Beautiful teacher and toddler boy playing with tractor and cars at kindergarten is receiving a lot of questions about childcare in connection to the shutdown and many people are not clear on what they can do. This is the latest information from the Government:

The Government advice is that childcare providers, including nurseries and childminders, and schools should remain open only to vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

These are being asked to be as flexible as possible to cover key workers’ hours. There are reports of many closing due to a lack of children or staff. In that case you should contact your local authority for advice on where the nearest open childcare/school facility is. If key workers are able to look after their children at home they should. They do not have to use these childcare providers.

For information on nannies, click here.

Informal childcare

On informal childcare, the Government says those who are vulnerable, eg, those who have been told to isolate for 12 weeks, should not look after children. It states: “When making alternative arrangements, parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category, such as grandparents [ie older people over 70 regardless of medical need] or friends or family members with underlying conditions.” That includes pregnant women.

What if I cannot work due to childcare responsibilities?

The Government says:

“If employees need time off for childcare or to make new arrangements because their school has closed, they can use:

  • time off to care for someone else
  • holiday, if their employer agrees

There’s no statutory right to pay for time off for dependents, but some employers might offer pay their workers depending on the contract or workplace policy.

Businesses can also consider furloughing staff where possible, as HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month, under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”

Tax credits

Working tax credit can continue for the first 28 weeks you are off work if you are self-employed and you get Employment Support Allowance or would be eligible for it or Statutory Sick Pay if you were an employee.  If not, your tax credits will stop after four weeks. If you are not working enough hours for more than four weeks, you might also stop getting the childcare element of WTC. Let HMRC know if your circumstances change.

The Government has also announced a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element and an increase in the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the cheapest third of local rents.


With regard to fees, the Government says it is continuing to pay early years funding to childcare providers eg to support the 30 hours free childcare. It is also offering financial help for nurseries to cover costs, including a business rates holiday for one year, grants and access to the Job Retention Scheme.

For the self-employed (including childminders) the Government has announced an income protection scheme covering 80% of earnings of up to 2.5K pounds a month.

On continuing to charge parents fees for childcare if they are not earning, the Government says it urges all childcare providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents and to access any financial support on offer.

More information – click here.

Support & Community

Join our Facebook Group #schoolsout – support for parents

Comments [23]

  • Confused says:

    I have a two year old and a one year old, my husband and I are both keyworkers who can work from home but my husband has a disability so cannot help with childcare. It’s impossible for me to work from home and look after the kids. My mum is in her 50s, can she still come to our house to help with childcare?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, This is a grey area. The Govt advice is to avoid social contact as much as possible and for older grandparents [over 70] or anyone with underlying health issues to not babysit for grandchildren. You could try and check with your local authority.

  • Ryanna says:

    Hi my childminder closed as of today with only 24hrs notice due to fear of catching Covid 19. In her contract it states no fee for when she is sick or absent. But lm a key worker and need emergency cover for childcare. I gave my 4 week notice for end of contract as l need childcare as l am a key worker. She nows say she wants 20 days paid holiday leave and 2 weeks sick leave. Or full pay of 400 a week

  • Ojuto says:

    Hello my husband and I are key-workers, my older daughter’s school is closed as all the children are home. What do we do now as both my husband and I need to work, and putting her in a childcare setting would incur costs we simply cannot afford

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Contact your local authority who are coordinating childcare. Are you on tax credits – you can find out more about your entitlement here – It has an online benefits calculator which will tell you what you are entitled to. Some benefits have been increased in light of the coronavirus. Do you work in healthcare as I know a new scheme is launching on Tuesday to get free childcare to NHS workers. We will put something up on this on Monday.

  • Amy Turner says:

    Hi, my husband and I are not key workers, but a close friend of mine has lost all of her work & income and has offered to mind my children so that we can return to work. I have no problems with the trust issue, it’s a moral issue. Should my friend (who has no underlying health conditions) be coming to our house to work? Is this the very situation that should not be happening? I totally understand why the schools and nurseries have closed down and am in agreement – I just don’t know whether I should take up my friends offer or not? Am I being selfish and taking too much of a risk?

  • Crystal Moles says:

    Can any advice if your child minder closes and you need to keep your place open, what you should do with child tax credits that pays for some of your

  • Jmc says:

    Hi, my husband & myself are both key workers! He works away for 2 weeks, we have a 2 year old who usually goes to his grandparents For childcare the weeks husband is away, they are both under 70, with no health conditions can he still go??

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      This is a grey area. The only thing the Government documents say is that older grandparents cannot look after grandchildren [ie people over 70 or in at risk groups]. We have asked whether younger grandparents would be okay to look after children and have not yet received an answer. The aim of the government advice is to reduce people’s contacts, but if you have no other means of looking after your children there may be nothing else you can do. You could ask your local authority who are coordinating childcare for key workers. We will update the site when we get a response from the Government.

  • Win Myint says:

    My husband and I are key workers, my daughter current nursery don’t open until further notice. Despite me and other mom’s requested to open, nursery refuse. They then sent us April invoice at 50% reduction. Not only they don’t provide service for key workers, they ask all parents to help to pay at 50% fee for April. I don’t want to pay for the service I don’t receive. If I don’t pay, I will lose the place and my deposit as 3 months notice is requested. What can I do at this?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      It will depend on your contract with your nursery, but the Government is asking nurseries to be understanding and they can access financial support from the Government if they are affected by the coronavirus. They would need to check out what they are entitled to. Key workers should have access to childcare, but some nurseries are closing due to lack of staff or children. You can contact your local authority for more advice as they are coordinating childcare.

      • Win Myint says:

        Thank you for your reply. As nursery can use excuse not to open to key workers due to lack of staff or other reasons, If i pay April month, they will then ask again for May and June, i will be paying for the service i don’t receive. looks like i need to lose my deposit in order not to continue paying for the service i don’t receive. How do you think?

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          It will depend on the contract you have. The Government is urging nurseries to be understanding and has put in place financial support if they have to lay workers off which they can access.

  • Louise spratt says:

    Hi my sister and I r both single parents and r still made to work. My mum is old and can’t have them due to the virus. R we ok to look after each other’s kids?. We also work together

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      This is a grey area that we are double checking on. The advice is to reduce social contacts and that no-one who is at risk should be looking after children.

  • Concerned says:

    I am a key worker and have been sending my son to school. The school closes at 5 and I don’t finish till 5.
    I have arranged with one of my friends that my son goes to hers straight after school, where I collect him.
    I do not get out of my car, n do not have contact with her. Do a socially distance wave.
    Is this OK?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      This is a very grey area. The Government advice is to reduce contacts as much as possible, but it is very difficult if school closes before key workers can pick up children. Schools are being asked to be flexible, however. Have you spoken to them about your situation?

  • Anonymous please says:

    What about the increased fees for key workers who don’t usually send children full time and have now lost grandparent childcare time. How can we work our nhs hours and more and pay these fees that are already out of our reach. We will face financial ruin for being the heroes of our country.

  • Jenr says:

    My childminder has closed down. I get my free hours and also have to pay a some money towards it. Do I inform HMRC that they are no longer attending?

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