SCMA Comment: Real Living Wage Announcement and the Programme for Government

SCMA Comment: Real Living Wage Announcement and the Programme for Government
You may be aware that the Scottish Government’s ‘Programme for Government’ announced in September committed to providing a minimum of £12 per hour for providers delivering funded ELC (including childminders) from April 2024 – with the positive intent that this would be above the Real Living Wage (RLW). 

However, this week’s announcement that the RLW will now be increasing to £12 per hour (from £10.90) from next April has resulted in questions being asked by the sector regarding the impact this will have. 

Please find below an outline of our understanding so far: 

  • when the Programme for Government was announced in September, the Scottish Government committed to a minimum of £12 per hour for providers delivering funded ELC. This indicated a positive intent to pay above RLW (currently £10.90 per hour).
  • at that time, SCMA, and other provider organisations in the sector, welcomed this commitment in principle, as SCMA had previously recommended to the Scottish Government the need for childminders to receive a subsidy to enable them to pay themselves the RLW. However, we also recognised that we need to understand the detail, what this will actually mean for childminders and work in practice, and if it will advantage or disadvantage childminders delivering funded ELC.
  • the commitment was a positive first step; however, this latest increase in the RLW may widen the gap further between childminders’ actual income and the RLW, and we also believe that all childminders (and not just those delivering funded ELC) should receive this subsidy. As such, we will continue to advocate for support for all childminders.
  • the RLW is set independently by the Living Wage Foundation – and this week’s announcement means that with RLW increasing to £12 per hour from April 2024, the hourly rate for funded providers will effectively only match the RLW rather than exceed it, as was previously detailed in the Scottish Government’s commitment.
  • we will be advocating for the Scottish Government to positively review its commitment, and increase their minimum pay commitment from next April to above £12 per hour, to maintain the principle and positive differentiation above the RLW which existed in September and to value the sector above this.
  • the Scottish Government also indicated that local authorities would continue to set local sustainable rates and pay these to providers. The Scottish Government would then top this up, where required, to ensure that all providers are paid a minimum of £12 per hour while delivering funded ELC. This top-up would be provided to local authorities to pass on to providers along with the sustainable rates. However, it was recognised that further work would need to be undertaken to understand what this would mean for childminding, as childminding is a very different model of childcare delivery compared with other funded ELC settings. 

The Scottish Government has committed to involving SCMA in the on-going discussions, so that this can be implemented in a fair and sustainable way for childminders. These discussions are yet to take place; however, SCMA is meeting with senior Scottish Government officials within this next week, and we will raise this latest development and our concerns then.

Read more about the Programme for Government at our news item published in September, and our accompanying statement on the Scottish Government’s commitment to pay £12 per hour for delivering funded ELC. 

As more details become available – as always – SCMA will update you.