Business support - tools and tips (COVID-19)

All Early Years providers will have experienced some financial difficulties as they deal with the effects of coronavirus and the national lockdown and the extended local lockdown.

Until now, most providers have managed to remain sustainable with the help of one or more of the government’s financial support schemes e.g. early education entitlement funding, cash grants, the staff ‘furlough scheme and the support scheme for self-employed individuals (including most childminders). For the longer term some providers will also have secured loans under one of the loan schemes.

The sector is now into the phase of ‘wider re-opening’ for more children and most providers have re-opened and others plan to re-open from the Autumn term. Providers must continue to ensure that they follow the government’s advice and guidance for operating safely and this this will result in restrictions to capacity plus additional costs of delivery. The effect on FEEE income has been minimal for most providers but there has been a substantial decline in parental fee income and this trend is likely to continue. The upcoming changes to the ‘furlough’ scheme will mean that employers will have to start contributing towards the furloughed staff costs from August and increase their contributions in September and October after which the scheme will come to an end. In view of this, it is very important for providers to prepare and review their Business Plan and Cash Flow projections.

Providers to consider updating your business plan and cash flow analysis

This will enable you to plan for actions to give your business the best chance of remaining sustainable in the coming months and to build on this for the longer term. It is essential that your business plan and cash flow forecast are realistic, taking into account all the changes or expected changes to income and costs. Having these tools will help you plan timely actions and also enable you to:

  • Share your concerns with your staff and get their support, where possible, towards actions which affect them e.g. reduction in hours, flexible working and leave arrangements etc.
  • Review your services to match the changes in demand e.g. offer more funded places and flexible delivery patterns if necessary.
  • Review and, where possible, take steps to reduce certain costs e.g. speak to your landlord, consider changing suppliers for utility, broadband and other services.
  • Have discussions with your accountants/business advisors and bank about the longer term actions e.g. reviewing the size and structure of your business or looking into support from the government loan schemes.

The above examples are not exhaustive and providers must also consider how to market their services in the current environment and continue to support parents to access information on the funded entitlements and other help towards childcare costs e.g. by sign-posting them to the government childcare choices

Free business planning tools which providers can access for support with business planning.