PLANS to deliver 1140 hours of funded childcare from August have been put on hold by East Ayrshire Council.

It comes after ministers laid an order in the Scottish Parliament to revoke the statutory duty, allowing local authorities to focus on their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councils had been given a deadline of August to introduce the childcare expansion by the Scottish Government but that deadline has now been removed.

Linda McAulay-Griffiths, Head of Education at East Ayrshire Council, said: “The impact of the pandemic means that much of the work planned for this summer to enable roll out of the 1,140 hours expansion cannot now go ahead. Construction, extensions and refur-

bishment projects are delayed, recruitment and induction of additional staff is on hold, and our priority is to concentrate on the urgent task of providing critical childcare for those who need it most in partnership with other childcare services.

“It will therefore be necessary to amend our plans in East Ayrshire for the implementation of all 1,140 hours placements in all early childhood centres, funded ELC providers and blended models of ELC with child-minders. We know that some parents will be very disappointed by this news as you might already have incorporated this entitlement into your childcare plans for August.

“However, at this time, we cannot reasonably assess when full delivery may be achievable and we will not be able to do so until the extent and duration of the impacts of the pandemic are clear.”

She added: “Decisions about reopening ELC settings and the pattern of hours to be delivered will be shaped and informed by national guidance and the national public health advice on how we best respond to COVID-19.”