Tories want equal nursery funding for South Lanarkshire kids

FAMILIES should be entitled to the same support regardless of what date their child’s birthday falls.

Conservative representatives backed calls for plans to be brought forward to address a clear unfairness in South Lanarkshire Council’s early learning and childcare policy.

The current rules see children qualify for funding starting the term after their third birthday.

Dubbed ‘birthday discrimination’ – the policy means some parents receive up to three months less funding than those whose kids were born just before the admission date.

At December’s council meeting the independent group put forward a motion to change the authority’s admissions policy while also calling for the Scottish Government to provide the necessary funding.

The SNP administration responded by trying to remove any mention of raising the issue with the nationalist government in Edinburgh.

Conservatives then acted to ensure the council would prepare to end birthday discrimination, seek the funding from the government, and prevent a potential £2 million hole in the authority’s budget.

Facing defeat, the SNP administration withdrew its weaker plan and instead backed the Tories’ proposal.

Cllr Alex Allison, leader of the opposition Conservative Group, said: “It is absolutely right that plans are brought forward to end the unfairness in the current system.

“The independent group’s proposal was looking in the right direction, but officers made clear their approach could mean fully £2 million having to be cut in the coming months.

“Obviously the responsible approach is to get fully developed plans for the policy change without risking a catastrophic impact on vital local services.” 

He added: “It is regrettable that the nationalist administration tried to roll-back from having to tell Nicola Sturgeon that her government should meet the costs their policies have imposed on councils.

“We simply would not tolerate this council being weak in its approach to SNP ministers. The authority has to be willing to stand up for South Lanarkshire.

“That’s why our amendment insisted the council lobby the Scottish Government for the extra funding, while also considering how we can make the change even if SNP ministers refuse to do the right thing.”