Falkirk childminders losing out

Childminders say they are losing out because Falkirk Council don't allow free childcare hours to be used with them
Childminders say they are losing out because Falkirk Council don't allow free childcare hours to be used with them

Childminders claim they are missing out on business because Falkirk Council only allow childcare hours to be used in nurseries.

From August, every three year old in Scotland has been entitled to three hours and ten minutes of paid for childcare, with two-year-olds in low income families also qualifying.

While local authorities, including West Lothian and the Borders, allow the childcare hours to be used with nurseries or childminders, Falkirk only pays for nursery places.

Leigh Irvine from the Scottish Childminders Association said as result local small businesses are losing out.

She said: “It’s great that the Scottish Government has increased the number of free hours, but not allowing them to be used with childminders is hitting business hard.

“It means parents are taking their children out of the childminder and into nursery to get the free time. We are regulated like nurseries so it seems only fair the free hours can be used with us too.”

There are 210 registered childminders in Falkirk.

Billinda Duncan (39) from Denny said: “The new hours are making things difficult, I wish Falkirk Council would allow the hours to be used with childminders too.”

A Falkirk Council spokesperson said there were no plans to start allowing the hours to be used in childminding services, adding: “We have excellent early years provision across the Falkirk Council area, in our schools, early years centres and, when required, with partners in the private sector.

“We are meeting the Scottish Government’s commitment to extend early years learning and childcare provision by increasing our capacity across the area.”

The local authority recently expanded a nursery and added a new one to cope with the additional demand.