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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-09845: Tavish Scott (Shetland Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 26 June 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the finding of the NDNA Annual Nursery Surveys 2017 that funding for the provision of free early education places is falling short of costs for the "vast majority" of providers by an average of £1,000 per child per year for three- and four-year-olds.

Answered by: Mark McDonald 19 July 2017

The Scottish Government values the key role that providers in the private and third sectors play in delivering the funded early learning and childcare entitlement, and we have provided the resources to ensure that the current entitlement of 600 hours per year is delivered in a way which is financially sustainable.

Whilst we cannot comment on the methodology underpinning the NDNA Annual Survey, research for the Scottish Government by Ipsos MORI in 2016 estimated that the average rate paid by local authorities would be insufficient to cover the costs of around 40% of private and voluntary setting currently delivering the funded ELC entitlement.

We also know from our Blueprint for 2020 consultation, which ran from October 2016 to January 2017, that a number of providers highlighted that a key barrier to offering the funded entitlement is that the hourly rate offered by local authorities doesn’t meet the costs of provision.

As highlighted in our Blueprint for 2020 Action Plan, which sets how the expansion to 1140 hours will be taken forward, the Scottish Government’s approach to delivering the expanded funded entitlement will be fundamentally provider neutral. This means that we will create a model which prioritises the settings that are best placed to deliver quality outcomes for children, and supporting our ambition to close the attainment gap, regardless of which sector they are provided by.