£250,000 windfall to provide free and low cost childcare

New measures are being put in place to tackle poverty and deprivation after Inverclyde Council secured £250,000 from the Scottish Government’s Access to Childcare Fund.

Some 200 organisations bid for a share of the £3m fund. Inverclyde Council was one of only 15 organisations to receive a grant, being allocated the maximum amount allowed.

Councillor Jim Clocherty, Convener of Inverclyde Council’s Education & Communities Committee, said, “What stops many local people from getting jobs, signing up for training courses or furthering their education is a lack of affordable childcare. Often, the people who are worst affected by the shortage of affordable childcare are also those most likely to suffer deprivation or to live in poverty.

“The fact that the council has been awarded the maximum grant, in the face of very stiff competition, recognises both the level of need in Inverclyde and the determined and effective measures we are adopting to address it.

“We propose to set up two dedicated Holiday Hubs providing childcare for children aged 5 to 7, 8+ and those with additional support needs (ASN). The hubs will run from Monday to Friday from 8am until 6pm and will be located in local high schools.

“The hubs will provide activities which are relevant to age and stage of the children. Outdoor play, health and wellbeing and creative arts will be important features. There is a particularly high demand for childcare for children with additional support needs and this money will help us address that.”

The new hubs will focus on those families who are most likely to experience poverty: single parent families, families which include a disabled child, families where the mother is under 25 years old, families who are living in poverty despite being in work and children who are vulnerable. The funding will allow childcare to be offered at low cost or no cost.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said, “I’m pleased that we are supporting these innovative projects to make childcare more accessible and affordable for low income families.

“School age childcare is critical to enabling parents to enter and progress in employment, education or training – helping to increase household incomes. However, it is equally important for children themselves, with high quality childcare offering further opportunities to grow, learn and play. These projects, and the models they establish, will help shape the future of school age childcare in Scotland and progress our ambitions to eradicate child poverty.”

Children in Scotland CEO Jackie Brock said, “The successful applicants to the Fund demonstrate the depth, quality and innovation of childcare provision across Scotland in 2020. These organisations have all seized the opportunity to test and adapt their services for the benefit of the children and families in their communities.

“Most importantly, the childcare provision that will be backed by this funding has a strong focus on supporting families who are often the most excluded from the benefit of high quality out of school and holiday services. This needs to change and the learning from the Fund could contribute to every child benefitting from such services.”

The Access to Childcare Fund focuses on tackling and reducing levels of child poverty in Scotland. It recognises that the cost and availability of childcare for school age children, round about the school day and during the holidays, is often prohibitive for low income families and can limit the opportunities available to parents to work, train and learn.

The Fund aims to make childcare more accessible and affordable, particularly for those children and families most affected by low incomes.

According to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2020, income and deprivation are highly significant issues for the whole of Inverclyde.

In Inverclyde 13,945 (17.7%) of the local population is income deprived compared to 12% in Scotland and 14.3% of the population is employment deprived compared to 9% of the population in Scotland.

Based on DWP/HMRC estimates using family income data in 2018/19, 17.7% of children in households in Inverclyde lived below the 60% median before housing costs. This has increased by 3.3% using the same methodology in 2014.