Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Thursday) demanded that the First Minister agrees to give childminders a ‘fair deal’ when it comes to support available to childcare providers.
During First Minister’s Questions, Mr McArthur criticised the government’s decision to exclude childminders across Scotland, including 26 in Orkney, from accessing the Transitional Support Fund that was set up to support the childcare sector.
Orkney’s MSP highlighted that the decision had left one local childminder feeling ‘undervalued and defeated’. Mr McArthur went on to call on the First Minister to address this by agreeing to give childminders access to the funding they deserve.
In response, the First Minister agreed to consider how the issues being raised by Mr McArthur could be addressed.
Following the exchange, Mr McArthur commented:
“Childminders across the country have been given a raw deal by the Scottish Government. Many stayed open during the lockdown to provide essential childcare for key workers but at a reduced capacity with minimum income.
“They have since spent significant time, effort and money to make their premises safe in light of ongoing restrictions and the need for increased capacity to meet growing demand as schools and businesses reopen.
“Yet, while Ministers have guaranteed necessary support to large parts of the childcare sector to cover similar additional costs, childminders have largely missed out. The Childminding Workforce Support Fund is offering grants of up to £350 for childminders, but this falls far short of the £1500 available to other providers through the Transitional Support Fund, from which childminders are excluded.
“The First Minister cannot on the one hand claim that expanding childcare is her priority but on the other leave a key part of the workforce hung out to dry. This is not about covering for lost income but helping meet the cost of developing practices so they can meet the new requirements.
“The Scottish Childminding Association is right to describe the government’s handling of this situation as ‘poor and divisive’. It is time the First Minister reviewed the approach and came forward with a fair deal for childminders in Orkney and across Scotland.”