The scheme was originally launched in 2012 by Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria Miller. Delivered through the Department for Culture Media & Sport it represents a total funding pot of £2m and is managed by Liberata UK, a leading provider of business support services.
Grants are awarded at either £250 or £500, and are designed to support up to 6,000 new childcare businesses. The £250 could be used to cover training, mandatory safety checks and liability insurance for a childminder. For larger businesses, accommodating more than six children, £500 could help pay for a deposit on a new premises.
Maria Miller said, ‘This is a fantastic opportunity for people who are, or maybe thinking of, starting up their own childminding or nursery business this year.
‘We are offering a cash boost of up to £500 to help budding entreprenuers with some of their start-up costs. Extra childcare options will help more women return to work as well as supporting people achieve their own business dreams.
‘Thousands of people have already applied for a grant but I want even more people to benefit. The Government is determined to help people who want to get on and realise their ambitions so I would urge anyone who is interested to apply as soon as possible to ensure they don’t miss out.’
One new business owner who has benefited is Katrina Ennis. She accessed £500 for her new nursery, Peekaboo Daycare, last September and used it pay for half of the fencing around her outdoor area. She found out about the grant through online information supplied by Barnsley Council.
The nursery is located in a community centre in Barnsley and offers a total of 28 places per session, 15 of which are offered to two-year-olds. Currently it has a mix of fee paying and free entitlement twos, and is steadily building occupancy.
She said, ‘The money was enormously helpful as it was essential to replace what was a low wall with high fencing, which would ensure safety for the children.
‘We are very excited about our outdoor area. Eighty per cent of it is grassed, which is ideal for our toddlers, and we have built a sensory garden.
'Students from Sheffield Hallam University volunteered to help us with this and spent a whole day at the nursery leveling the ground and laying down a membrane and covering it with rubble. It looks lovely now, and we’ve got plans to build a walk-in sandpit, a mud kitchen and a herb garden.’
People interested in starting a new childcare business can access free detailed advice from a range of professional organisations working in the childcare sector. This includes teaming up with a mentor.
To find out how to apply for a grant visit www.childcarebusinessgrants.dcms.gov.uk