SNP's nursery plans won't work without proper funding, says childcare organisation

Parental choice must be respected and encouraged if the Scottish Government’s ambitious plans for childcare are to be fulfilled, according to the National Day Nurseries Association, Scotland.

Parental choice must be respected and encouraged if the Scottish Government’s ambitious plans for childcare are to be fulfilled, according to the National Day Nurseries Association, Scotland.

In its annual report it said the chronic underfunding of universal free childcare hours, lack of parental choice and increased operating costs are making it impossible for high quality nurseries to provide affordable places.

NDNA Scotland’s Chief Executive, Purnima Tanuku OBE said: For years NDNA has lobbied to close the gap on funded free places. The deficit between the amount the local authority pays and the cost of the place, now hits the highest gap standing at more than £1,000 per child, a year for three and four-year-old places. The Scottish Government has also announced ambitious and fast moving plans to introduce two-year-old places this year. It is vital the correct funding is in place before these plans are rolled out. We would also urge a re-think on how places are allocated. Funding should follow the child, so as long as it is high quality provision, parents can choose the right nursery for their needs.”

The survey results showed some nurseries were receiving ‘pocket money’ amounts of funding per hour to deliver high quality childcare. On average nurseries in Scotland are receiving an average hourly rate of £3.80 on three and four-year-old funded places, with an average loss of £1.72 per hour.

This shows how the private, voluntary and independent sector still lags behind in the hourly rate allocated to them compared to schools and maintained childcare settings,” said Tanuku.

A shortfall of this extent threatens the sustainability of the sector and makes it impossible for nurseries to offer more places despite having the capacity,” she said.

“By providing the free entitlement, nurseries in the PVI sector are offering a public service and that should be recognised. In many cases nurseries are not even been given the option to provide places as the local authority makes the decision where the money will go. Not only is this limiting the amount of provision available, it is creating problems for parents who may not have a nursery which offers funded places close by.

“For nurseries that do offer places, it is critical funding intended for the free entitlement actually gets through to the frontline. We strongly recommend the Government looks at ring fencing the funding so nurseries can continue to support families,” said Tanuku.

The NDNA Scotland’s Nursery Survey estimates nurseries lose  £1,032 per child for the funded hours for three and four year olds. It adds that the situation is made worse by the fact that nurseries are constrained by the heavy financial burdens of rising uitility bills, VAT, business rates and difficulty raising capital investment.





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