Our guidance makes clear how we expect local authorities to fund early years entitlement places during the COVID-19 outbreak. Local authorities should only take a different approach from that set out in guidance if they have good reasons for doing so, their approach is fair and equitable, and they communicate this clearly to their providers. Further information on 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.
Through our regular contact with local authorities, it is apparent that the vast majority have been compliant with our funding guidance throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.
Childminder funding can be more complex than funding for group-based providers. This is because unlike nurseries, which typically offer a fairly consistent number of childcare places, the number and age of children cared for by a childminder can vary significantly throughout the year and from one year to another. This means that childminders may move in and out of offering the government’s early years entitlements depending on the children they are caring for at any given time.
For this reason, we know that some local authorities fund their childminders on a case-by-case basis in the interests of value for money and propriety. This ensures that they are not paying providers who might not otherwise have been offering entitlement places.
We do not currently hold data on the number of local authorities taking tailored approaches to childminder funding. This is due to the highly variable nature of this provision, and that fact that arrangements may vary within a single local authority based on the individual circumstances of each childminder.