Joan McAlpine MSP has spoken up in parliament to demand that the local council pays private nurseries a fair rate.


And she welcomed the children’s minister Maree Todd’s reassurances that government pressure would be put on councils to treat independent “partnership nurseries” equitably.


The SNP government is expanding childcare to 1140 hours a week and has given local authorities the money to fund places for children at private nurseries, childminders, playgroups as well as council facilities.


However, Dumfries and Galloway council is still paying private provider well below the “sustainable” rate of £5.35 an hour recommended by its own independent review last August.


Ms McAlpine spoke up after being contacted by Sparklers Nursery in Annan who face a large shortfall once 49 of their children take up the funded places in January.


Ms McAlpine said:


“It is fantastic news that the Scottish Government are extending early years education to 1140 hours a week for 3 and 4 years olds and vulnerable two year olds between now and 2020. It’s a massive investment and the government is determined it will be of the highest quality.


“The money has been made available to council’s but is not passed on to providers like Sparklers, who will be the first private nursery to deliver the 1140 care in Dumfries and Galloway.  The council need to deliver what they promised in an independent review of early years that reported in August this year. They have left things far too late and need to get it sorted before a nursery goes bust. The minister made clear in her answer that she will not let councils off the hook and expects them to fund nurseries fairly and not discriminate in favour of council owned premises.”

Background from the Scottish Government on Early Years Rollout