Many people are concerned about the Government advice on childcare access given the lockdown. Here we give the latest Government position.
workingmums.co.uk 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:
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.
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.
“If employees need time off for childcare or to make new arrangements because their school has closed, they can use:
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.”
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.
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