West Dunbartonshire Council is unable to commit to providing the number of free nursery hours they had planned before the coronavirus pandemic.

A proposed increase in funded childcare to double the free pre-school education hours a year, from 600 to 1,140 hours, is part of a Scottish Government initiative aimed at providing young people with a high quality experience that can make a significant contribution to their development, and help close the poverty related attainment gap.

However, as the Covid-19 outbreak hit in March, the Scottish Government announced that councils would no longer be legally obliged to deliver 1,140 hours of funded childcare from August 2020, due to the coronavirus crisis.

West Dunbartonshire Council has since confirmed that they will be unable to meet this provision once lockdown has been lifted.

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A spokeswoman for the council said: “The Scottish Government lifted its statutory requirement to provide 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare by August 2020 in light of Covid-19.

“Children will return to our early year centres from August 12 and will receive the current statutory 600 hours of childcare.

‘The council will continue to work in partnership with and take advice from the Scottish Government on a new timetable for delivering 1,140 hours for eligible children in the year ahead.”

Maree Todd, minister for childcare, has confirmed that a final decision on the policy’s arrival would not be made until the end of this year.