Scots childcare costs increase by third and could rise further

The projected cost of government-funded childcare to disadvantaged two-year-olds has risen by a third and could rise again, the Scottish Education Secretary has said.

Mike Russell said the Scottish Government has already found an extra £20 million following negotiation with councils and that he is “absolutely not ruling out there being a different figure at the end of the day”.

Councils say it will cost £114 million to deliver 600 hours of childcare to two-year-olds from workless households – nearly three times the Government’s opening bid of £41 million.

But Mr Russell said ministers “don’t agree with that figure” and insisted their present calculation of £61 million is “robust”.

The Scottish Government had previously insisted that “concerns have not been raised” by councils during evidence to Holyrood’s Finance Committee three months ago.

But council umbrella group Cosla has now come forward with “significant concerns with regard to the capital funding available”, in a new submission to the committee.

Mr Russell said the term “no concerns” was open to interpretation when pressed on the matter by the committee yesterday.

Responding to Cosla’s claims that £61 million is “somewhat optimistic”, Mr Russell said: “Well, we don’t believe so.

“I’m not saying that this cannot continue to be negotiated, and of course in a negotiation both partners take robust positions and then discuss it.”