The Central private nursery in Shetland will close in a month’s time. The nursery failed to recruit staff because public sector nurseries are paying more and recruiting to fulfil the expansion of childcare. Twenty families will be directly affected by the loss of the nursery, which is run by Mairi Jamieson and her team. What can the First Minister do to ensure that wraparound care is provided, particularly for mums who want to stay in work, at a time when the expansion is happening? What can she do so that such private sector nurseries can stay open, rather than being forced to close?
Generally speaking, the expansion of early years and childcare is extremely important. In terms of recruitment and funding, part of the funding deal that we reached with local authorities includes money to allow fair funding rates for private sector nurseries, so that they can pay fair wages as well. We insist on the living wage being paid.
It is important that, as well as the expansion, we work with local authorities and they work with private and third sector providers to ensure the wraparound care that is important for parents. I will ask Maree Todd to look into the specific issues and, after that, to come back to Tavish Scott in more detail.