The Scottish government has made a commitment to offer all three and four year olds (and some 2 year olds) in Scotland 1140 hours of free at the point of use early learning in childcare from 2020.. UNISON therefore welcomed the principle of extending the current “free hours” to 1140 a year. There is no guarantee that this expansion will take place in the public sector. Where it does it will bring significant changes to the Early Learning and Childcare service (ELC). This briefing focuses on the key issues that branches will be (and already are) negotiating with employers about the implementation of this policy.
The Scottish government consultation on the proposed service model closed in June. A link to UNISON’s response can be found in the further information section of this briefing. The Scottish government and local authorities have reached an agreement on the levels of funding and local authorities are now finalising their plans to deliver the extended hours. This is one of the few areas of local government where funding will increase and job numbers are growing. There is therefore an opportunity to recruit new members and for staff currently at risk of losing their jobs to retrain to work in this sector. The “funding follows the child” model means that there is a substantial risk that much of the funding will go to private and third sector providers where pay is substantially lower.