Coronavirus - update 23 March

This is our summary of the current situation for out of school clubs as of 23 March 2020:

Closure of schools and childcare settings

  • From Monday 23 March you must close your childcare provision, unless you are caring for the children of key workers, (or for children who are otherwise deemed vulnerable).
  • You cannot stay open to care for children who do not fall into one of the above categories.
  • It is up to you to decide whether you want to remain open to offer limited childcare as outlined above. You may decide that due to the small number of children involved, or due to a shortage of staff, that it is not practicable to remain open.
  • There seems to be quite a lot of variation in how schools are dealing with the childcare issue. Some are taking over the provision of a full day of childcare entirely by opening from 8.00am to 6.00pm, effectively shutting down any out of school providers who previously worked on their sites; whereas other schools are working in partnership with their existing wraparound providers in order to offer parents an extended day of childcare.
  • If your club operates from premises that are outside the control of the school (eg from a community building or village hall) then in principle there is nothing to prevent you from opening up to provide a full day of childcare if parents request it - but only for the children of key workers. The childcare provided by some schools is over-subscribed in some areas, so parents are looking for alternatives. Also some parents may prefer to place their children in your care rather than have them warehoused on school sites with large numbers of other children. Note that you would need to notify Ofsted of the change to your opening hours.

For a definition of vulnerable children, and a list of key workers, see:
Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision

For specific guidance on the closures for childcare settings, see:
Coronavirus (COVID-19): early years and childcare closures      [Added 24 March]

For more information about the closure of schools and childcare settings, see:
Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers

Financial assistance

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The details of the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are still to be resolved, but it looks like it will work as follows:

If you need to shut down your setting entirely for the next couple of months, or lay off some of your staff, you can designate some or all of your employees as 'furloughed' rather than making them redundant. You will need to get the affected employees' agreement for this. You then notify HMRC of who the furloughed workers are. (Note that they cannot do any work for you while they are furloughed.) The government will reimburse you 80% of the wage costs for these furloughed staff, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The mechanism for how you will be reimbursed, and when, has not yet been defined. You can choose whether to top up your staff's wages to 100% at your own expense, or whether to just pay them the 80% that you can reclaim from the government.

Note that the above is just an outline and more details from the government are awaited.

Reclaiming SSP

If any of your employees have to take time off because they have contracted Covid-19, or they have been advised to self-isolate, and they are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), then you can reclaim up to two week's worth of any SSP that you have paid out. This only applies if you employ fewer than 250 people, and only comes into effect when the new emergency coronavirus legislation is voted in (expected at some point this week). As above, more details about the mechanism and timescale for any refunds, are still to be published.

Self-employment

If you are self-employed, it has been announced that you can defer the next payment of your self-assessment tax bill until January next year. Note that this means that you can defer payment of your July instalment, you will still need to pay it later.

The government is looking at more ways to support self-employed people, and we are hoping for an announcement of new measures later this week.

More information about financial support

The government has put in place numerous other measures to support businesses, but the ones we've picked out above are those most likely to be relevant to out of school clubs. For more details of the measures outlined above, as well as information about other business support schemes, see the latest government guidance:
Covid-19: Support for businesses

For more information about government support for employees see:
Covid-19: Guidance for employees

The Federation of Small Businesses has a good summary:
Covid-19: Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed

Related articles

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Coronavirus - update on school shutdowns 20 March

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Covid-19 / Coronavirus