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Concerns over Edinburgh Council’s decision to stop childcare funding for families outside of the city

Publication: Midlothian View

Several MSPs have joined together to raise concerns over Edinburgh Council's decision to stop childcare funding for families living outside of Edinburgh City.

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Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency, has joined with seven other MSPs to raise urgent concerns about Labour-led Edinburgh Council’s decision to stop childcare funding for families living outwith the city, including a number of affected families in Midlothian.

Three and four year olds in Scotland are eligible for 1140 hours of childcare funding per year as part of the Scottish Government’s childcare offering. A key principle of this policy is that funding follows the child, meaning families have the flexibility to choose where and how these hours are best used for their circumstances. For many families living in Midlothian this may mean choosing a nursery near their place of work in the City of Edinburgh to allow them to make drop-off and pick-up times around their working hours.

However, Labour-led Edinburgh Council have now decided to cease all funding for 1140 hours entitlement for families who live outwith the city but have children enrolled at private nurseries in Edinburgh. This means those Midlothian families affected will have to now look at moving their children either to council ran nurseries in Edinburgh or to nurseries in Midlothian or other local authority areas. In addition those families who currently have 0, 1 and 2 year olds enrolled at private nurseries in the city will no longer be able to apply for them to take up their funded provision at the same nursery they are currently settled at

Ms Grahame, along with seven other MSPs representing constituencies in neighbouring local authorities (Colin Beattie MSP, Angela Constance MSP, Annabelle Ewing MSP, Christine Grahame MSP, Fiona Hyslop MSP, Paul McLennan MSP, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP and David Torrance MSP), has now written to the leader of City of Edinburgh Council asking that this decision be reviewed as a matter of urgency.

Ms Grahame said:

“This decision has came absolutely out the blue for families affected, causing them a huge amount of stress. Finding the right childcare provider for your family and then ensuring that your children are settled, familiar with and happy in their environment is a key decision in giving them the best start, and one I know parents put a great deal of thought into.

“To have the rug pulled from under them like this, and to now be faced with the uncertainty of withdrawing their children from a nursery they are happy and settled at and finding a new one is devestating.

“Aside from the disruption to the children concerned, many families have chosen the nurseries they have chosen because they offer hours and locations that work around their working hours. I understand the council will continue to fund places at council ran nurseries in the city, but these are not suitable for everyone dependent on available hours and locations that they can secure.

“There has been little to no engagement with Midlothian Council on this matter either, despite the fact that there may now be an influx of families looking for new funded places within Midlothian if they have lost places in the city.

“This decision has been made with little thought to those affected despite the huge impact it will have on them and it is not in keeping with the principle of funding following the child. I call on Edinburgh Council to urgently reverse this decision.