A report setting out the cost pressures facing both the Council and our partner organisations provides an update on the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) budget position and proposes a number of options to address the position in-year.
Members will be asked to agree one-off support funding for ELC Partners in the current financial year based on the payment of an additional funding amount, and for the additional ELC payment to apply from either August 2022 or October 2022, at a cost of £240,000 or £365,000 respectively.
In the light of budget uncertainty and the potential impact on all aspects of the Council’s operations, whether delivered internally, externally or arms’ length, recurring funding commitments will not be made in advance of the budget setting meeting of the Council in March 2023, which will take into account the Scottish Government funding settlement and the latest financial context.
The reports sets out recommendations to conclude the current review of ELC partner rate funding for August 2022.
Also that a review of ELC re-design be taken forward with further reports back to Education Committee in February 2023, ahead of recommendations relating to ELC funding for 2023/24, which will be considered by the Council in March 2023.
Chair of the Education Committee, Cllr John Finlayson said:
“Significant engagement has taken place with the ELC Sector and these are valued partners delivering valuable services for young children and families in our communities.
“Providing additional in-year financial support for these partner organisations is welcome news.
“We are all acutely aware of the impact of rising costs and how this is affecting all organisations, businesses and families.
“We know these cost increases, particularly for food and energy are also having an impact on the ELC sector.
“This report will help to provide context to the challenges facing the Council, which are shared by partner organisations, while also highlighting the additional financial challenges associated to costs on delivery of services such as staff pay expectations and recruitment. I am pleased that we are able to offer some support in these difficult times.”
“In recent weeks, Senior Council Officers have been engaging with the ELC sector to understand the challenges we are all facing.
“The engagement that the Council has had with partners has been essential and constructive, and it is through this that a number of key actions and recommendations have emerged.”
Budget Leader Derek Louden added:
“The report to Council sets out the challenges facing the Council across all of its budgets in addressing the in-year overspend forecast of £9.6m, the forecast budget gap of £40.9m for next year, and the remaining risks and uncertainties on the budget including the staff pay award.
“As a result, the Council is planning for anticipated savings of nearly 7% across all services.
“Due to the continued financial crisis, no permanent or recurring additional funding commitment can be considered at this time.
“A key priority is to do our best to manage the emerging risks and ensure financial sustainability into the next and future financial years.”