First Minister questioned on roll-out of 1140 hours

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was faced with more questions in the Scottish Parliament this week regarding funding for 1140 hours.Nicola Sturgeon MSP

In her response she acknowledged the concerns of the sector presented by NDNA’s own research and the need for all types of providers to be involved for the policy to be successful. 

Brian Whittle MSP asked the First Minister what the Government is doing to ensure that private providers are part of a sustainable solution for the roll-out of 1140 hours funded childcare. 

The First Minister responded that the role of private providers was going to be vital in delivering high quality flexible ELC to families across Scotland. She reiterated the announcement from before Christmas that the funding follows the child model empowers parents to access their childcare entitlement from any setting that meets the new National Standard. 

NDNA has welcomed the fact that funded providers are seen as important to delivering the model but remains concerned about the different interpretations of ‘funding follows the child’.  

The First Minister also talked about the funding deal with Cosla to ensure the expansion is secure and sustainable with slightly increased hourly rates for all providers as asked for by NDNA members. 

Brian Whittle MSP responded that the principle to increase childcare is supported across the Scottish Parliament but must recognise the crucial role private providers will play. He explained how staff are being lost to council run facilities at an alarming rate due to differential pay and asked if the First Minister could commit the Government to ensure partner providers are treated fairly because without them, the policy will fail. 

Mary Fee MSP also asked what steps the Government are taking to prevent childcare costs from rising in private nurseries as a result of providers paying the living wage. 

NDNA has repeatedly highlighted the need for funding to account for the Scottish Living Wage, inflation and the costs associated with delivering the offer. If this rate isn’t right the whole delivery of the policy will be unsustainable. The Scottish Government has acknowledged that 40% of nurseries weren’t getting enough funding to cover their delivery costs in 2016, and these have only shot up since then. Despite this, there is only patchy support to help private and third sector nurseries be ready for the expansion in 2020.

NDNA Scotland regularly briefs MSPs about the issues faced by members and other providers as the Scottish Government moves towards full roll-out of its 1140 hours childcare policy to help inform debates in Parliament.

Watch the full FMQ’s here