Call for financial support for Scotland’s childminders

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Childminders have seen an increase in operating costs since the coronavirus pandemic began due to the need for extra hygiene measures.

Nearly half of childminders have said they will not be financially viable in six months without government support.

The Scottish Childminders Association (SCMA) surveyed 900 people working in the sector, and found 46% said they may not be able to last until the spring.

Another 28% said they have run up debt to supplement their income.

The Scottish government said it had agreed to jointly fund a grants to childminders who had struggled to access support through other routes.

A spokesman said the government was “deeply grateful” to those in the sector who supported key worker families and vulnerable children during the crisis.

Call for ‘swift action’

Childminders have seen an increase in operating costs since the coronavirus pandemic began due to the need for extra hygiene measures.

Around 80% of those asked also said they have seen a reduction in the number of children in their settings.

Scottish Labour MSP Mary Fee has called on the Scottish government to lend more support to childminders.

She said: “If Scotland’s childminding businesses are at threat then it puts the jobs of childminders and the working patterns of thousands of parents and carers at risk too.

“The time has come for the Scottish government to take swift action to see that this sector is protected from the financial shockwaves of the pandemic.”

‘Dire warning’

Scottish Conservative MSP Alison Harris said it was a “dire warning about the threat facing the childminding sector”.

“If the number of childminding businesses drops, parents will be left in the lurch. They will be forced to reduce their working hours or quit their job altogether.

“The consequences for parents and the Scottish economy would be devastating.”

Lib Dem education spokeswoman Beatrice Wishart also called for the Scottish government to step in “meaningfully and urgently”.

She said: “Keeping childcare services going throughout this pandemic is going to be pivotal to recovery.”

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A Scottish Government spokesman said there was a range of financial support open to childminders and payments for the statutory early learning and childcare entitlement were during lockdown, regardless of whether providers were open or closed.

“In June, we also agreed with the SCMA to jointly fund the childminding workforce support fund to provide grants to childminders who have struggled to access support through other routes and the Scottish government’s support for this, as acknowledged by the SCMA, now totals £420,000,” the spokesman added.

“This remains a time of unprecedented challenge, and there are significant demands and pressures on the government to support businesses and people all across Scotland who are being impacted by the pandemic and the necessary public health response.

“We remain committed to working with the whole childcare sector to respond to the continued need to follow public health guidance while progressing the recovery.”

BBC News