Nurseries forced to pay below min wage

Some nurseries are reporting that they may have to close down as a result of the funding problem.
Some nurseries are reporting that they may have to close down as a result of the funding problem.

The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has revealed that Scottish childcare funding rates are so low that nurseries are struggling to pay their staff the National Living Wage.

NDNA’s Freedom of Information (FOI) request discovered that the average funding received for two-year-olds in Scotland is £4.95 and for three to five-year-olds is £3.84 per child.

Dumfries and Galloway Council presently pays £4.78 for two-year-olds and £4.01 for three to five-year-olds.

However, this is poles apart from the voluntary Scottish Living Wage of £8.75 an hour, which was introduced by the Living Wage Foundation campaign group and is backed by the Scottish Government.

Unsurprisingly, a recent survey revealed that 97 per cent of nurseries had not adopted this wage as a minimum rate for all staff.

However, paying the Scottish Living Wage will shortly become a condition for nurseries providing funded places who want to deliver 1140 hours as a partner provider.

Although it is not yet mandatory, nurseries are facing increased pressures to increase wages, but many are left worrying about how they will achieve this.

One owner we spoke to from a nursery in Dumfries, but who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed that they are struggling to pay anything like the living wage until such time as the council increases the rate it pays for childcare.

She said: “It’s a catch 22 for us, because if we don’t pay the living wage we can’t be a partner provider of the 1140 hours programme. I have no idea how we are going to manage with essentially one hand tied behind our backs. It’s like moral blackmail, pay the living wage and you can be a partner, but nobody’s helping with the costs of doing it.”

Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive of NDNA Scotland, said: “Both the results of our Scottish Living Wage survey and the FOI demonstrate how crucial it is that the Scottish Government ensures that local authorities offer a funding rate which is sustainable. It must realistically encompass the cost of delivering good quality early learning and childcare.

“The present rates, as seen in the FOI results, are woefully inadequate to be able to pay the rising cost of the workforce. Until this situation is resolved staff will be poorly paid and continue to leave for better prospects in the public sector.

Dumfries and Galloway Council had made no comment as we went to press.