Race against time to upgrade Fife nurseries

Capshard Primary School's new nursery (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Capshard Primary School's new nursery (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

Fife Council is up against the clock to meet a deadline for the Scottish Government’s plan to significantly  increase free childcare.

It has until August 2020 to complete all necessary nursery building works – but officers say they are confident of delivering on time.

They updated area committees in Dunfermnline and Kirkcaldy this week on plans to meet Holyrood’s plan to increase  early learning and childcare from 600 hours to 1140 hours – almost double.

Officers have been working on expanding existing nurseries and creating new ones, to create enough capacity for the programme.

But at both  committees, councillors were warned by the education department that getting everything finished by the deadline “would be tight” due to soaring construction costs.

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Raymond Johnston, service manager, told councillors: “Work that started in January will be a bit tight to get finished for the summer. Construction prices have increased, due to an rise in demands on the industry.

“The construction industry has limited workers, and every local authority in Scotland is trying to build for the 1140 hours – spending £700m before August 2020.

“Construction costs are now significantly higher than when we started. There is a massive pressure on the construction industry and that is majorly inflating prices.

“It will be tight, but we are still confident it will be finished.”

Clark Graham, early learning officer, added that phasing in of the 1140 hours had been slower than anticipated, due to parents not being used to receiving 52 week free child care, or equivalent.

But he added: “Fife is still in line with other local authorities in central east Scotland with uptake.”