Private nurseries in raw deal row at North Lanarkshire Council

North Lanarkshire Council has been accused of abandoning private childcare and telling parents there were no places available due to a lack of funding.

Scottish Conservatives say funding will instead be used to top up places at nurseries under local authority control and parents with children attending private nurseries, who fail to apply in time, will either have to raise the £6,000 to keep their child there or move them to a local authority nursery.

Families who move to North Lanarkshire will also be denied the option of sending their children to private nurseries, despite the Scottish Government confirming in July that a new timetable for its Funding Follows the Child programme would be in place by the end of the year.

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The party’s shadow education minister secretary, Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP, said: “The decision by North Lanarkshire Council will devastate the PVI childcare sector given that many providers are already facing significant financial difficulties because of the Covid crisis.

“Council leaders have a duty to be transparent about how this decision was reached and why parents were not given prior forewarning their child could lose their place.”

However, a council spokesperson said: “Being accused of abandoning private childcare providers is simply untrue when we have fully funded private providers throughout the pandemic and we’re one of the only large local authorities to commence the 1140 hours’ provision this month.

“Following a tender process last year, 190 early years’ providers and Childminders were successful and are now on our framework to assist in the delivery of 1140 hours of early years and childcare provision to all three and four year-olds and eligible two year-olds in North Lanarkshire for a stated value over a period of three years.

“The 1140 hours’ programme was widely publicised and applications for early years’ placements closed on March 13. We have received a high volume of applications this year and any applications received since the closing date are considered to be late applications but will still be processed.

“The full complement of funding for private providers as outlined in the framework has now been met for this year, and if an applicant’s first choice was with a funded provider, they will now be offered a place at a council setting, all of which provide a high standard, valuable and quality learning environment.”