To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to Government guidance that local authorities should continue to fund early years settings who are being forced to close for public health reasons during the autumn term 2020, what the definition is of public health reasons; and whether a setting that is partially closed is eligible for that funding.
As the government’s guidance on the use of free early education entitlements during the COVID-19 outbreak sets out, local authorities should continue to fund providers which have been advised to close, or left with no option but to close, due to public health reasons. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/use-of-free-early-education-entitlements-funding-during-coronavirus-covid-19.
The provision around ‘public health reasons’ is intended to ensure that providers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak continue to be funded if they are not able to operate as normal. This might be because they have had a positive test or tests for COVID-19 within their setting, or because a critical mass of children for whom they care need to self-isolate, and it is not financially viable for them to open.
Settings that are partially open but not able to operate as normal owing to public health reasons fall within the scope of eligibility. Local authorities should not fund providers which are closed without public health reasons.