SNP MSP for South Scotland Joan McAlpine has welcomed the First Minister’s announcement that childcare spending will double to £840 million a year – signalling a huge expansion in free early learning and childcare provision across Scotland.
The move reaffirms the SNP Government’s commitment to making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up, and is part of efforts to nearly double free childcare entitlement to 1140 hours from August 2020 – and it is expected to save parents around £350 per child, per month.
However, the SNP MSP said that it was important that Dumfries and Galloway council, which will oversee implementation of the government’s commitment, ensures that rural areas are properly covered by early years’ provision. She pointed out that the Scottish Government want early years’ provision to be flexible – so that rural areas can be covered by trained childminders, private nurseries and the not-for-profit sector as well as council provision.
Commenting, local SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:
“This expansion of childcare and early learning will help transform young people’s lives in Dumfries and Galloway – if the council role it out as the government intends.
“I have in the past been approached by constituents concerned that the council was duplicating quality private sector provision by building school nurseries where there was no spare demand – while other areas, particularly rural areas, had no cover planned. The recently abandoned proposal to close schools in Ae, Kirkbean and Garlieston tried to use the lack of nursery provision to justify closure. That is unacceptable. The government wants nursery provision to cover rural communities and local authorities should work with parents and providers to ensure that happens. “
“We know that some parents continue to struggle with childcare costs to allow them to work – and this expansion will change that.
“Delivering 30 hours a week of free childcare for every three and four-year-old in Scotland, as well as eligible two year olds will give children across Dumfries and Galloway the very best start in life and play a vital role in our efforts to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up.
“The fact that this announcement comes hot on the heels of the recently launched Scottish baby box and the decision to remove nursery premises from business rates altogether proves the SNP’s commitment to our young people in Dumfries and Galloway.”
“The move will help parents back into work, as well as saving them around £350 per child, per month, on childcare costs. This doubling of our investment, from £420 million to £840 million every year by 2021-22 is exactly the kind of support and progressive action that the SNP Government continues to deliver for Scotland.”
The SNP Scottish Government has also taken positive action by providing the innovative baby box to all expectant parents in Scotland – as well as providing 100% business rates relief for all nursery premises.