MSP challenges COSLA funding to Midlothian

Wednesday June 24th 2020

Scottish-Parliament


Written by Midlothian View Editor, Phil Bowen

MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has raised concerns about a shortfall in funding for early learning and childcare in Midlothian during a meeting of the Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee.

A report by Audit Scotland on Early learning and childcare, which was being scrutinised by the Parliamentary Committee, highlighted that Midlothian will have the largest proportionate funding gap in Scotland when this is delivered for 2021/22, with Midlothian Council receiving about 24% less revenue funding than the council estimated was required.

In recent years SNP MSPs have appeared reticent to directly criticise the COSLA funding formula for Midlothian. As the funding formula is agreed by all the 32 Scottish Councils, fast growing councils such as Midlothian are in the minority and have not been able to get the majority of councils to change the formula as these councils would then see their funding decrease. Midlothian Council Leader, Derek Milligan Labour, has repeatedly called for the Scottish Government to intervene to resolve the funding formula, so this is an interesting intervention by Colin Beattie.

Colin Beattie commented:

“It is deeply concerning for me that Midlothian has the largest proportional gap in Early Learning and Childcare funding which will be delivered in 2021/22.

“The responsibility of this funding distribution fell to COSLA, and they decided to use a method based on financial templates rather than formula. They then adjusted this in accordance with population sizes for each council, however they used population data from 2014 to calculate this. As many people will know, Midlothian is the fastest growing constituency in Scotland and so there will be a significant population increase from the figures given in 2014. As a result, they have received a disproportionately low amount of funding in comparison with what is actually needed.

“COSLA have effectively given 24% less than Midlothian Council have estimated that they would need to deliver these provisions. This is completely unacceptable and seems like a major oversight on the part of COSLA. It is clear that this will not match the needs of the area and the shortfall is going to create a significant issues in the delivery of expanding early learning and childcare provisions as it has been calculated on outdated population figures.’

“I would call on COSLA to rethink this decision, taking into consideration the impact that population increases will have on calculating this funding and the difficulties which this funding gap will create. Midlothian is growing quickly and there needs to be the proper funding provisions to ensure that those living here have the same proportionate opportunities and support as those elsewhere in Scotland.”

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