As it is coming up to the Christmas holidays and the end of 2023, it may be necessary to make important changes for the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) on your Early Years Hive.

As such, the following points are covered in this announcement:

  • NCS Service Calendars (adding closures)
  • NCS weekly returns
  • NCS Bridging payments

We advise making any necessary changes as soon as possible to ensure payments under NCS are not affected. The payment dates over this period for all Early Years programmes were shared via announcement last week.

NCS Service Calendar (adding closures)

If your service is closed over the Christmas and New Year’s period, you must mark the closures on your NCS service calendar on the Early Years Hive accordingly – this must be done in advance of the Christmas period, NCS calendars cannot be adjusted retrospectively. You must also note whether it is a subsidised (paid) closure or not. Services are entitled to up to 10 subsidised closures per programme year.

For guidance on adding closures to your NCS service calendar, please see the ‘How to add a Closure’ heading of the NCS Service Calendar Guide on the Hive.

NCS Weekly Returns

As per the NCS Funding Agreement 2023-2024, NCS returns must be submitted on the Early Years Hive each week. Returns become available from the last day (Sunday) of the reporting week and must be completed by the following Tuesday and are based on the previous week’s attendance.

If a return is not submitted within the required timeframe, all subsidy payments will be suspended until it is submitted. All service providers should ensure any outstanding returns are submitted before the end of the year. For guidance on returns, please see the NCS Attendance Returns Guide on the Hive.

If your service is closing over Christmas, returns for these weeks still must be submitted. If you are unable to submit returns during a closure period, please see the below section on Bridging Payments.

NCS Bridging payments

A ‘Bridging Payment’ is available to service providers during periods of subsidised closure, if they are unavailable to submit their weekly NCS return i.e., Christmas holidays, mid-term breaks, etc.

When submitting the NCS return that is two weeks before the subsidised closure period, the Hive recognises the closure coming up and asks the following: “You have an upcoming closure, do you want to request a Bridging Payment for the dates from “X” to “Z”? (Yes/No)”

If Yes is selected, the payment is made during the week the service is closed i.e. when they are unable to submit their returns. The service must then submit “Fast returns” for this period when they return after the closure.

For guidance on returns, please see the NCS Attendance Returns Guide on the Hive.


The Early Years Team

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