You are here:

Last reviewed on 10 December 2020
Ref: 39982
School types: All · School phases: All

Be clear on what funding is available from the government for state-funded schools to cover coronavirus-related costs. Find out how much you can claim and what you can spend it on.

10 December 2020: we've updated this article to reflect that the second, and final, window for claiming exceptional coronavirus-related costs is now open (read the 'what's the funding for' to find out which costs are eligible).

You have until 22 December 2020 to claim for any eligible costs that your school incurred:
  • From March to July 2020, or
  • During the 2020 summer holiday period for additional free school meal costs  

What is it?

Additional money for state-funded schools to cover coronavirus-related extra costs you encountered between March and the end of the summer term in July, or during the 2020 summer holidays for additional free school meal costs.

Note: you'll still receive your normal funding allocations, special educational needs and disability funding (SEND), and funding for alternative provision for 2020-21.

Who's eligible?

All state-funded mainstream and special schools, and alternative provision.

This includes non-maintained special schools, and maintained hospital schools and academies.  

You're eligible for funding if:

  • You weren't able to cover the extra costs of certain things (see below) from your existing budget
  • Paying for these extra things:
    • Means you've had to use historic surpluses, and so draw on your reserves which you need long-term
    • Increased the size of a historic deficit
    • Prevented the planned repayment of a historic deficit

You're not eligible for funding if you expect to finish the year with a higher level of reserves than you started (September 2019 to August 2020 for academies and April 2020 to March 2021 for maintained schools). In other words, if you began your financial year with an accumulated historic surplus, and you expected to increase that surplus this year, you're not eligible.

What's the funding for?

1. Extra premises-related costs of keeping your school open during the Easter and/or summer half-term holidays for vulnerable children and children of critical workers

The funding covers the additional cost of things like utilities and resources (e.g. hygiene services) above what you would've normally paid between March and the end of summer term in July. 

2. Supporting pupils on free school meals who didn't attend school

This is where your extra costs weren't covered by the government's national voucher scheme, like:

  • Costs before the national voucher scheme was introduced
  • Costs where the national voucher scheme wasn't appropriate to support these pupils (e.g. if you provided meals directly to these pupils, or if there weren't any participating supermarkets nearby)
    • You can only claim through this fund for free school meals that were provided over Easter and summer half-term holidays where local supermarkets were not yet part of the national scheme

Funding will also be available to compensate for extra costs that the COVID Summer Food Fund didn't cover. Such costs include:

  • Costs for ordering vouchers from local supermarkets where eligible families couldn't access the supermarkets in this list
  • Costs for arranging food parcels over the summer holidays (note that you could only arrange such food parcels for pupils who were already receiving free school meals before the holidays)

3. Additional cleaning due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases 

It covers the extra costs of deep cleaning your school above what you'd normally pay for cleaning. 

What's it not for?

  • Covering the costs of wider reopening to more pupils (e.g. costs related to increased routine cleaning)
  • Loss of self-generated income (e.g. letting facilities, providing wrap-around childcare or catering services)
  • Extra staffing to cover the holiday periods
  • SEND provision that your LA organised for pupils with education, health and care (EHC) plans
  • Expected expenditure that your school didn't benefit from (e.g. exam fees after exams were cancelled) 

How much can we get?

You can claim up to the limits below:

Mainstream schools  
250 pupils or fewer £25,000
251 to 500 pupils £30,000
501 to 1000 pupils £50,000
Over 1000 pupils £75,000
Special schools and alternative provision  
All schools £50,000

If your costs exceeded these limits, you'll be able to make a case for more funding when making a claim.

Pupil numbers will be based on:

  • 2 to 4 year-olds - headcount of funded places from January 2020
  • 5 to 16 year-olds - headcount from October 2019 census
  • 16 to 19 year-olds - pupil numbers from 2019 to 2020 academic year allocations

When can we claim for funding? 

The second claims window is now open  

You have until 22 December 2020 to claim for any unclaimed eligible exceptional costs that you incurred: 

  • From March to July 2020, or
  • During the 2020 summer holiday period for additional free school meal costs  

You can't claim for exceptional costs that aren't to do with the 3 points we cover in the 'what's the funding for?' section of this article. This is laid out under the grey box in the 'additional costs covered by the fund' section of this guidance

The government says this will be the last time you can claim for this funding. 

When will we get the funding from the second claims window? 

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will pay this funding direct to local authorities and academies. The ESFA aims to pay:

Local authorities: at the end of February 2021 

Academies: at the beginning of March 2021 

Until the funding is passed on to your school, you'll need to cover the extra costs you’ve faced from your existing budget.

If you're unable to cover the extra costs right now

Follow your normal process to seek short-term advance payments to help with your cash-flow.

Maintained schools: contact your LA.

Academies: contact the ESFA.

Keep a record of extra costs

Your headteacher or school business manager needs to keep a record of all your school's coronavirus-related costs in line with your local finance policies.

You’ll need this:

  • For local audit arrangements
  • So you can identify this income and expenditure when you report your accounts
  • In case there are individual enquiries into your claim


This article is based on the Department for Education's guidance on exceptional costs associated with coronavirus.

More from The Key

Anxiety (2).jpg

Pupil mental health: deepening understanding

Are you looking to deepen your staff's understanding of mental health, including anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation? Safeguarding Training Centre has the resources you need.


Evidence-led training courses that make it easy to upskill staff, anytime, anywhere.

CPD Toolkit is the most effective way to virtually deliver evidence-led training and support the professional development of your staff. Downloadable courses and online 5-minute summaries provide flexibility for training, whether staff are participating as skeleton staff in-school, via video call or individually at their own pace.

The Key has taken great care in publishing this article. However, some of the article's content and information may come from or link to third party sources whose quality, relevance, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability we do not guarantee. Accordingly, we will not be held liable for any use of or reliance placed on this article's content or the links or downloads it provides. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.