Early Learning Regulations
The Department for Education has laid regulations in Parliament to extend the entitlement to early learning from September 2014 to cover around 40% of two-year-olds in England. Laying regulations well in advance of the entitlement coming into effect will give providers and local authorities certainty about which two-year-olds will be entitled to a place from September 2014 and enable them to identify eligible children and secure sufficient places.
Autumn Statement 2013
The Autumn Statement 2013, delivered on 5th December contained two elements that are of interest to childcare businesses. Employers do not need to take any action on these announcements as they will take effect automatically.
National Insurance Contributions for under 21s
From April 2015 the government will abolish employer NICs for those under the age of 21, (with the exception of those earning more than the Upper Earnings Limit). All childcare business employing under 21s will benefit from this move.
Cap on increases to Business Rates
With no policy change, business rates for 2014-15 would have risen by 3.2%, in line with September 2013 RPI. The Chancellor announced in his Autumn Statement that the government will support all businesses by capping the RPI increase in business rates to 2% in 2014-15. All childcare businesses paying business rates will benefit from this cap.
Local authorities have the ability to grant discretionary relief, under defined schemes. Childcare businesses should contact their local authority to see if any such schemes are available in their area.
Early years in schools
Last month we mentioned a demonstrations project that the Department for Education is running to gather learning and good practice, and to develop case studies on schools providing care for two-year-olds. There are now around 50 schools involved in the project, drawn from across the country in rural and urban settings, including LA nursery schools, community schools, voluntary aided schools and academies. The first outputs from the project, comprising the results of a survey of participating schools (delivery approaches, challenges, solutions and support needs), and other products will be available in early February. We will provide links to these in a future newsletter.