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Nicola Sturgeon flagship childcare policy ‘about to IMPLODE” warn nurseries | UK | News

Nicola Sturgeon flagship childcare policy ‘about to IMPLODE” warn nurseries | UK | News 1029716 1

Home Hersolution Booty Sculpt System 468x80  Nicola Sturgeon flagship childcare policy ‘about to IMPLODE” warn nurseries | UK | News Hersolution Booty Sculpt System 468x80

The First Minister has pledged to increase paid-for nursery places from 600 hours to 1,140 for children aged three and four – and eligible two-year-olds – by August 2020.

This is the equivalent of around 30 hours per week.

But a freedom (FoI) response published by the Scottish Government, following a request from the Tories, details a catalogue of complaints.

Concerns include poor rates paid to operators, a lack of access to capital funding, and the absence of engagement in the roll-out.

The documents also show Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes and former Health Secretary Alex Neil have raised nurseries’ fears with government colleagues.

Opponents last night accused ministers of “driving nurseries to breaking point” and demanded urgent action.

Earlier this year, the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) warned fewer than a third of private nurseries will be able to offer extra free places.

Spending watchdog, the Accounts Commission, has also uncovered a £160 million funding black hole in the plans.

A string of childcare providers have contacted the Government directly in recent months to outline their serious concerns.

On June 15 an area manager with the Kirktonholme Childcare chain wrote to Childcare Minister Maree Todd, warning: “The partner providers are literally on their knees and I believe this ambitious policy is about to implode.”

Just 11 days later Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney was told of a “disappointing meeting” between South Lanarkshire Council officials and private nurseries.

“If this plan goes ahead, there will be services who will definitely will not survive 2018 never mind 2020,” an email read.

“We are now fighting for survival.”

Another told civil servants the same month that their business was “in a precarious situation for the near future.”

Citing the auditors report from earlier this year, one business said many partners “are planning to abstain” adding: “Unless the Government steps in and sorts this out very quickly then the whole project of 1140hrs is going to collapse.”

Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes told Ms Todd in July that one nursery in her constituency believed “the expansion will negatively impact on their service”.

In January, Airdrie and Shotts MSP Mr Neil passed on the concerns of a Lanarkshire childcare provider, who had told him the Government “should be brought to task and set a national standard of funding for all private providers”.

Scottish Tory children and young people spokeswoman Alison Harris said: “This childcare expansion was launched to huge fanfare but it is clearer by the day that the SNP has no ability to deliver it.

“The SNP cannot deliver this policy without childcare providers and they are telling us that they cannot survive on the current rates.

“The SNP is driving nurseries to breaking point due to low rates, lack of engagement and lack of access to capital funding.

“The SNP must sort out this mess urgently or childcare providers will be driven out of business and parents relying on this policy will be devastated.”

Source : EXPRESS

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