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Is your two-year-old entitled to free early education and childcare?

In Sefton, some two-year-olds are eligible for 15 hours of free early education and childcare a week for 38 weeks of the year.

This can be taken up with an Early Years provider such as a childminder, nursery or pre-school that is registered with Ofsted and Sefton Council to offer funded places.

Is my child entitled to a free place?

You can claim a free place for your child if you receive one or more of the following benefits:

  • Income support
  • Income-based Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit – if you and your partner have a combined income from work of ÂŁ15,400 or less a year, after tax
  • Tax credits and you have an income of ÂŁ16,190 or less a year, before tax
  • Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Support through part six of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Working Tax Credit four-week run on (the payment you receive when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • You are excluded from claiming public funds because of immigration status, or lack of immigration status
  • You are in receipt of support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989

Children are also eligible if they:

  • Are a Local Authority ‘looked after’ child
  • Have a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan
  • Attract Disability Living Allowance
  • They have left care under a special guardianship order; child arrangements order or adoption order.

Some children will also be eligible for a free place if their parents or carers meet similar low-level income requirements. Visit the dedicated Childcare pages at the Sefton Council website to find out more.

How do I apply?

  • Speak to a member of staff in your local Family Wellbeing Centre; or
  • Speak with your Health Visitor or Social Worker; or
  • Online via

Please visit: for further information.


Two new walk-through Test Centres for Sefton

Sefton is benefiting from two new, walk-through Local Testing Sites, at Crosby Library and Netherton Activity Centre, for people who have the Coronavirus symptoms.

Open from 8am to 8pm, they provide easy access to COVID-19 tests for people who do not have access to a car and for those who have coronavirus symptoms and should not travel by public transport.

Each Test Site has between four and eight testing bays which can each test up to three people an hour. Users will be asked to self-swab when attending and visitors will need to wear a mask or face covering which they will be asked to dispose of in bins provided or to take them home, after the test.

Unlike the three-day Mobile Units, the Local Testing Sites in Bootle and Southport will be open for several months.

August saw the opening of Merseyside’s first two walk-through centres, at Bootle Town Hall and at Southport Town Hall and Mobile Testing Units have been at sites across Sefton on most days since the start of July. This has mean tens of thousands of tests have been provided to people across the Borough .

Testing is only available for those either with coronavirus symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense or taste – or those who have been asked to get tested by a doctor, public health professional or by their local council.

Anyone with one or more of these symptoms should book a test at one of Sefton’s walk through or mobile test units online at  or by calling 119.

You may be advised to isolate if you have been in contact with a confirmed case but you should only get a test if you have symptoms.

By following these simple rules, we can ensure people who need a test can get one.  The swab test takes less than a minute and is relatively pain free.

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council said:

“Testing is still a vital tool in helping to overcome the spread of COVID-19 infections across the Sefton Borough and I am delighted we have been able to establish these two new walk-through sites for people with symptoms, in addition to the new Mobile Unit location at Aintree Racecourse earlier this month.

“The opening of the new walk-through centres is the latest important step in ensuring we have accessible testing facilities for the people of Sefton, when and where they need them.”

Cllr Maher added that Sefton Council is continuing to explore more opportunities for test sites across the Borough.

Find out more about October’s remaining Mobile test Unit dates.

City Region leaders demand ‘immediate review’ of gym and leisure centre closures

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council has joined The Metro Mayor, City Mayor and other Liverpool City Region Council leaders to ask the Government to conduct an ‘immediate review’ of its decision to close gyms under Tier 3 restrictions.

As part of the review, Government ministers are being asked to provide the scientific evidence to support the City Region’s gym and leisure centres being closed. If they are unable to do so, they are being asked to change the law so they can open again.

In the letter, the Metro Mayor, City Mayor and other Liverpool City Region Council leaders state that while the Government conducts any review of gym and leisure centre closures, they continue to urge everyone to follow the law  as it currently stands and will fully support Merseyside Police in any enforcement activity required.


Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

10 Downing Street 




19th October 2020

Dear Prime Minister

We are writing as the Leaders and Mayors of the City Region regarding the government’s decision to close gyms and leisure centres as part of Liverpool City Region’s tier 3 package.

We are very conscious of the high rates of coronavirus in our region and the pressure this causes our NHS, and have therefore always understood the need for action to bring the virus under control and protect the health of our residents.

As you will know we were given no choice about the specific package of measures that would be applied to us, but did ask for assurances that the restrictions in our area would have the desired effect of impacting on the transmission rate and take some of the pressure off our NHS, which faces being overwhelmed. To ensure the measures had the best chance of success, we requested the scientific evidence to support their imposition. 

At no stage did we ask for gyms and leisure centres to be closed – despite several ministers subsequently erroneously claiming otherwise. Indeed, during talks we repeatedly questioned why decisions on the suite of regulations were being taken, specifically pointing to the fitness and mental health benefits that gyms and leisure centres provide to our residents. Responses to our requests for the scientific basis for the closure of gyms have, to date, not been forthcoming.

Last Friday the Government decided to place Lancashire into Tier 3. However, gyms there were not required to close. We find this decision perplexing. The Tier system was supposed to simplify the public’s understanding of restrictions to avoid the confusion of the local ‘lockdown’ patchwork quilt.

We simply cannot accept our region being treated differently to other Tier 3 areas, without robust scientific evidence. These inconsistencies in restrictions between areas within the same tier risk undermining the new system from the beginning.

So today we are writing to request an immediate review of the government’s decision to close gyms and leisure centres in the Liverpool City Region. 

We believe this process should take the following steps:

1)   The Government should provide the scientific evidence that gyms and leisure centres are in LCR are less safe than elsewhere in the country – or that they are significantly contributing to the spread of COVD-19 in our city region.

2)   If (as we suspect) ministers are not able to provide this evidence, then we are requesting that the government amends the regulations passed by parliament last week – to rescind the inclusion of gyms and leisure centres from the list of restricted businesses – and allow them to safely re-open, at the earliest opportunity.

3)   Under the legislation passed in Parliament our Tier 3 restrictions have to be reviewed in three weeks’ time. If the government is unable to provide evidence to justify gyms and leisure centres closures, and is also unable to amend the regulations before this point, then we ask that you give us the discretionary power locally to determine that gyms can re-opened at this point.

While this review is undertaken, we will of course continue to urge people to abide by the letter of the current legislation – and fully support Merseyside Police in the fantastic work they do to keep people in the City Region safe every day. 

We look forward to receiving your response on this important issue.

Yours sincerely

Steve Rotheram 

Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region 

 Cllr Rob Polhill 

Leader of Halton Council 

Cllr Graham Morgan 

Leader of Knowsley Council 

Joe Anderson OBE 

Mayor of Liverpool 

 Cllr Ian Maher  

Leader of Sefton Council 

 Cllr David Baines 

Leader of St Helens Council 

 Cllr Janette Williamson 

Leader of Wirral Council

cc Ed Lister

City Region Secures ÂŁ44 million Tier 3 Covid-19 Support Package

Liverpool City Region has secured an additional ÂŁ30 million in COVID-19 business support from the Government.

It comes in addition to the ÂŁ14 million already received to support the local Test, Trace and Isolate system and local enforcement efforts, to make a total of ÂŁ44 million in additional funding secured in support of the Tier 3 restrictions.

The City Region also received ÂŁ7m when it went in to Tier 2 status, meaning a total package of ÂŁ51m so far.

The funding comes after the City Region was the first to be placed on the Tier 3 ‘very high’ Covid alert level restrictions, leading to closures of hospitality and leisure business and impacting many that remain open.

Speaking on behalf of  Sefton Council leader Cllr Ian Maher, the City Mayor and Leaders of the other five city region Local Authorities including  Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “Once it became clear that Tier 3 restrictions were going to be imposed on our City Region, we held a series of meetings with the Government, throughout last weekend, with the aim of protecting our NHS and supporting local people and businesses.

“We have been absolutely clear since we were put in to Tier 3 that we would continue to press the Government and hold meaningful dialogue to secure vitally needed extra economic support.

“The result of this is that, today, we have obtained from the Government, an additional £30million in funding.

“This is welcome news for our economy and the thousands of people whose businesses and jobs will now be supported through this very difficult period.”

Find out more about the latest COVID restrictions and guidance for people considered clinically extremely vulnerable.

Council is contacting clinically extremely vulnerable residents to ensure they can access support

After the recent introduction by the Government of new, Tier 3 restrictions across the Liverpool City Region, Sefton Council is contacting the Borough’s residents who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable to remind them where they can find advice.

Text messages have already been sent to 17,000 of the 22,000 or so Sefton residents who fall into the clinically extremely vulnerable category for whom the Council has a mobile phone number. Now the Council is using various methods to contact the remaining 5,000, including a direct mailshot.

Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing Cllr Ian Moncur said: “People who are clinically extremely vulnerable are likely to be those who have specific health conditions, certain cancers or who are organ transplant recipients and who were told previously to shield because they were at a high were risk from COVID-19.

“This is probably still the case for those people, which is why we want to get in touch with them and tell them where they can find support if they need it.”

The Government’s basic advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable is that they should stay at home as much as possible, work from home where possible and avoid all but essential travel. They are also being told to reduce shopping trips significantly, to use online delivery services or ask other people in their household, support bubble or volunteers to collect food and medicines.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people should, the Government’s advice says, still try to go outside for exercise, and can still go to school and to work if they cannot work from home.

Cllr Moncur continued: “There is information and a set of Frequently Asked Questions on our website at However, we realise not everyone has access to the Internet and online information which is why we are exploring a range of methods, including printed flyers or letters to get the message out.

“What we want to tell people is that if are clinically extremely vulnerable and need support, they should contact the Council’s Call Centre on 0345 140 0845.

“Contact centre staff will assess people’s needs and will be able to arrange support ranging from supermarket slots to assisted shopping, befriending and medicine deliveries.”

Cllr Moncur added: “I would also ask anyone who knows a Sefton resident who they suspect might fall into the clinically extremely vulnerable category and who might struggle to get information or support to contact them and give them the Call Centre’s 0345 140 0845 number.

“Or they can contact the Call Centre themselves and provide us with people’s details if they have concerns about them.”

You can find the the Government’s information for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable here. 

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