SCMA Statement on “flawed” COSLA/IS ELC Cost Collection Survey

SCMA Statement on “flawed” COSLA/IS ELC Cost Collection Survey
SCMA was approached by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Improvement Service (IS) to contribute to and inform a childminding-specific survey aimed at capturing up-to-date data on the costs of delivering childminding services from childminders involved in delivering funded ELC. This was aimed at informing local authority consideration of sustainable rates for delivering funded ELC.

We were happy to do this, in good faith, as we were aware many childminders have been experiencing increasing cost pressures and we advised where the draft survey needed to be improved in different parts.

Regrettably, COSLA and the IS refused to take SCMA advice to include questions on two critical areas:

  • the need to capture data on the hidden costs of delivering childminding services and funded ELC. As predominantly sole workers childminders practice during the day and are required to undertake a significant amount of work unpaid in the evenings and at weekends (paperwork, quality assurance, studying, continuing professional learning, finance, marketing and communicating with parents etc). This work has increased as a result of an increase in paperwork and bureaucracy under ELC expansion with some childminders now reporting working an additional day a week, unpaid and in their own time. While data is captured on nurseries’ and other providers’ full operating costs, it isn’t for childminders.
  • while sustainable rates for delivering funded ELC are important, there is a need to look beyond just sustainable rates to also considering if the number of hours of funded ELC which childminders receive from local authorities are of a high enough level to support childminders’ business sustainability. Data captured by SCMA ELC Audits and surveys would indicate that in a number of cases these are not, that a number of local authorities continue to prioritise their own nursery provision and some childminders have reported just receiving small remainders of hours. In a recent SCMA survey 67% of childminders involved in ELC delivery believed delivering funded ELC is very important to their business sustainability, but only 30% believed there is a strong match between the offers made by local authorities and their business sustainability. And while some may argue this is due to parental choice, there is recurring evidence that a number of local authorities are still not promoting childminding equitably alongside their own provision as an option for parents to receive their funded entitlement. We believe this must change and that more data should be captured by this survey to inform national and local discussions. 
We believe it essential that questions on both of these critical areas should have been included if wishing to meaningfully and genuinely understand how childminding services operate, their delivery costs and sustainability needs. Without this data, the information captured will be incomplete and the survey flawed.

SCMA and other stakeholders have only just been advised that this telephone survey is already underway.

If childminders, as independent business owners, are contacted directly and invited to participate in this telephone survey they should feel able to do so, as some up-to-date data on increasing cost pressures experienced by childminders could be helpful, but incomplete. In simple terms it will only present part of the picture. As such, we cannot endorse this survey in its current form nor will we actively encourage members to respond

In the meantime, we will continue to encourage more meaningful engagement of childminders. We will also continue to advocate nationally and locally for consideration of the setting of sustainable rates to be extended to include levels of hours for childminders which support their business sustainability.

If any members have already participated in this survey, wish to feed back or are uncertain if they should do so, please email