CALLS for private nurseries to receive business rates relief have been backed by the sector.

A review of Scotland’s rates system recommended the move as part of wider support for childcare.

Led by former RBS chairman Ken Barclay, the review concluded that one of the most important ways to support economic growth was ensuring workers had access to "convenient, affordable and accessible childcare".

Loading article content

The Barclay Review said: "Although rates are only one overhead for this sector, we believe a reduction in the rates burden may help enable more of the workforce to return to work after starting a family.

"As such, we recommend that childcare nurseries benefit from a new 100 per cent relief from 2018/19. This should be evaluated after three years to ensure that benefits of the relief have been felt, including by parents and carers."

The plans, which will cost around £7 million a year, were welcomed by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA).

The NDNA has previously argued some establishments could have been put out of business because of business rate rises.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of NDNA, said: “We are absolutely delighted that our concerns have been heard and the evidence carefully looked at.

“Our case was that the high business rates will increase fees for parents and would lead to some providers having to close because they are unable to balance their books.

“This recommendation sends out a positive message to all childcare providers who are looking at how they can deliver expanded free early learning and childcare which will be brought in over the next few years."

In June, NDNA network chair Stephanie Dodds handed a petition to scrap business rates to MSPs who debated the issue at the Scottish Parliament.

Nurseries in Dundee and Aberdeen were facing increases of around 50 per cent, while in Edinburgh, increases were as much as 70 per cent.

A campaigning group of parents also welcomed the recommendation, but argued a much more fundamental reform of the nursery system was required.

A spokeswoman for Fair Funding for Our Kids said: "We welcome any proposal that makes childcare more accessible and affordable, but working parents need full day places for their children and the vast majority of funded places are still offered on a half day basis."