The Department for Education has announced changes to existing early years guidance which will allow councils to move around government funding for the ‘free entitlement’ scheme in “exceptional circumstances” to make sure sufficient childcare places are available for vulnerable children and those of critical workers. Updated guidance states that the Department will be “setting out how local authorities can use their free entitlement funding differently, redistributing it – in exceptional cases and in a clearly focussed and targeted way – in order to secure childcare for the children of critical workers and for vulnerable children, where their usual arrangements are no longer possible”.

The guidance goes on to state that: “Local authorities will need to ensure there are sufficient childcare places at this time, and to redistribute funding across settings accordingly. This ability to redistribute will enable local authorities to ensure that critical workers, including NHS staff, are able to access childcare where they need it. “Any setting which sees their early entitlement funding reduced in order to fund childcare places elsewhere will be able to increase the proportion of their salary bill eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in line with the Department’s guidance on access to the scheme.”

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