Council chiefs in Angus remain confident they are on track to almost double funded childcare places by August 2020, despite fears raised in the Scottish Parliament local authorities are running out of time.
Angus Council has confirmed its plans are “well-advanced and on course” to provide 1,140 hours free childcare for children aged between two and four years old.
It is also confident its two new purpose-built early learning and childcare centres in Forfar and Carnoustie will be completed ahead of deadline.
In the SNP’s programme for government 2014-15, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced every child aged three or four, and some qualifying two-year-olds, would receive 1,140 hours of free childcare each year from the 2020 summer term.
This is almost double the 600 hours councils currently provide.
At Holyrood yesterday, north east Conservative region MSP Liam Kerr pressed the SNP’s early years minister for a guarantee parents will not be “let down” at the legislative cut-off.
With less than 18 months to go, freedom of information figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives showed none of the 49 public providers in Angus were offering more than the current standard.
Four of the 27 centres in Dundee were providing extra hours, with 10 of Fife’s 90 centres and five of the 47 centres in Perth and Kinross also ahead of the game.
Mr Kerr said: “We are well over the halfway point in the expansion of childcare provision to 1,140 hours.
“In the north east, freedom of information requests have revealed only eight out of 222 public childcare centres are offering the target of 1,140 hours.
“To reassure parents who are feeling let down and show the minister’s confidence in the delivery of the target, will the minister commit to resigning if she fails to deliver 1,140 hours at every public childcare centre in the north east by August 2020?”
Maree Todd was “absolutely confident” all public providers will adhere to legislation.
She said: “At the moment the legal entitlement is 600 hours. No local authority is under legal obligation.”
An Angus Council spokesman said: “Working closely with our private and voluntary partners and childminders, we are pleased to report our plans are well-advanced and on course to provide the required level of funded care from 2020.
“Current delivery is in line with planning and we are involved in ongoing consulting with partners to determine the share of care delivery so as to ensure a range of provision within each of the Angus locality areas.
“A number of staff are being supported to retrain and qualify to work in the Early Years sector.”
He added the Forfar and Carnoustie centres, were scheduled for completion in advance of August 2020.