During today’s session of topical education questions Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie highlighted the “scale of anxiety” among childcare providers struggling to deliver the government’s childcare commitment.
In response to questioning from Mr Rennie, Minister for Childcare Maree Todd acknowledged the pressures on nurseries, admitting:
“I do understand the level of anxiety about this. Despite the only 30% response rate to this survey I think it does very clearly reflect the preoccupations of many NDNA and Early Years Scotland members. We know from all of our contacts and concerns that many private nurseries feel under huge pressure, as do childminders, about whether they can continue to operate as viable businesses in the years ahead.”
A report this week by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) found:
- Only 30% of nurseries are likely or very likely to provide the additional hours (down from 51% last year).
- 46% of nurseries are unlikely or very unlikely to deliver the additional hours (up from only 24% last year).
- Only 7% are likely to be able to able to meet the expansion on current funding rates.
- More than half of nurseries (51%) are set to increase their fees.
Speaking after the exchange, Mr Rennie commented:
“The Minister has confessed that nurseries are under huge pressure and concerned about their future viability. They do not believe they will be able to deliver the government’s headline free childcare guarantee by 2020 without more funding.
“The public want assurances that the Government’s delivery plans are robust and that there are sufficient staffing plans and funding in place to ensure every family will be able to take up their full entitlement of hours.
"These challenges must be overcome because we know investment in the early years makes a huge difference to a child's life chances."