New date for 1140 hours expansion announced

Maree Todd, the Children’s Minister, has announced that all eligible children will benefit from at least 1140 hours of funded early learning and childcare (ELC) from August 2021. Maree Todd

The ELC expansion was originally intended for August 2020 but was paused in April to give flexibility to local authorities when responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The new date has been agreed with COSLA. 

NDNA Scotland’s Chief Executive Purnima Tanuku OBE said: “It is good for providers to get some clarity about the 1140 hour rollout which some local authorities are already offering, so we welcome this announcement. It gives providers time to plan ahead.

“Local authorities have been offering parents a variety of options as a result of the delay with some staying to the statutory minimum of 600 hours through to the full 1140 hours of funded ELC places. This has resulted in a postcode lottery for parents and providers. 

“There remain some serious challenges for nurseries including recruitment and retention of staff and paying them the Real Living Wage which will be a requirement under the National Standard. 

“NDNA Scotland shares the nursery sectors’ concerns about the levels of funding that local authorities are offering partner providers delivering this offer. Costs have continued to rise year on year along with the new costs associated with making nurseries Covid secure. 

“Our research shows that private and voluntary nurseries are facing a workforce crisis especially where employees leave to work in public sector nurseries. Sustainable rates need to allow providers to be able to offer attractive salaries which include career development. 

“This is a very ambitious policy from the Scottish Government to make a real difference for children and families. But parents must be able to have a choice of setting and all types of early years providers must be supported.”

Children’s Minister Maree Todd said: “I’m very pleased that we now have a new date for the full implementation of expanded ELC, and that children will benefit from more high quality funded childcare.

“We took the difficult decision in August to pause the statutory roll-out to allow local authorities to focus on responding to the pandemic and providing critical childcare, which was crucial to supporting key workers.

“The pandemic has had an obvious impact on construction and recruitment plans across the country, however local authorities have worked exceptionally hard and continued to make good progress in very challenging circumstances, and the majority of children receiving funded ELC are already receiving 1,140 hours.

“We were always clear that the suspension of the statutory duty on local authorities to provide 1,140 hours was a pause, not a stop. We will continue to work with partners over the coming months to deliver this transformational policy that will benefit families across the country.”

COSLA’s Children and Young People’s Spokesperson Councillor Stephen McCabe said: “Local government remains committed to increasing the number of funded early learning and childcare hours, recognising the transformational effect for Scotland’s families, ensuring that children have access to the highest quality learning and care, and providing significant savings to parents and carers.

“Despite the massive challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on infrastructure projects and our recruitment programmes, all councils are delivering more that the current 600 hours entitlement to some or all families.

“We are pleased that we have jointly agreed a new date of August 2021 for the reinstatement of the statutory duty for 1140 hours. We look forward to working with all our partners, including the Scottish Government, to ensure Scotland’s children and families can benefit from almost doubling funded hours of ELC and to support the recovery from the impact of coronavirus on our communities."

Read the announcement here.