By Martin Kelly
Revolutionary childcare plans that will be implemented in an independent Scotland will save families almost £5,000 a year, First Minister Alex Salmond will say today.
During a visit to a soft-play centre in Edinburgh, the First Minister will say that only the full powers a Yes vote, will enable us to transform childcare.
The Scottish Government’s White Paper ‘Scotland’s Future’ has outlined plans to expand childcare hours to match those of primary school. By the end of the first Parliament, all three and four year olds and around 50 per cent of two year olds will be entitled to 1,140 hours of childcare a year – 30 hours a week for the 38 weeks of the school year.
By the end of the second Parliament an independent Scottish Government will provide 1,140 hours to all children from age 1 to school age.
According to the Scottish Government, these plans will benefit around 240,000 children across Scotland, whilst – they say – Westminster welfare reforms will push another 100,000 children into poverty by 2020.
Commenting, Mr Salmond said:
“Independence gives Scotland the opportunity to transform childcare.
“We have already made progress – almost doubling the level of childcare Labour provided – but we need to go much further if we are to transform the lives of children and help tens of thousands of women back into work.
“Our independence childcare plan delivers the same number of hours free, high quality nursery childcare as children spend in primary school. That’s thirty hours a week for the school term.
“And, the saving to families is huge. Childcare is expensive but with this plan, a parent saves almost £5,000 a year for a one year old and more than £2,000 for each two, three and four year old.
“And that is before you add in the extra income families will be able to earn because they will have enough childcare to allow them to get back to work.
“The contrast with the austerity agenda, public service cuts and increasing child poverty on offer from the No camp could not be clearer.
“By voting to believe in ourselves, we can seize the chance to transform childcare. That is the opportunity of Independence.”
The Scottish Government has said revolutionary childcare will be affordable due to the extra tax receipts and economic benefits that come from the increase in women in the workforce. This revenue will be ploughed back into the service. Currently, under devolution, any extra revenue goes straight to the UK Treasury.
In March the Association of Scottish Businesswomen (ASB) said that the SNP’s transformational childcare plans would also give more women the freedom to start their own business – and would see a major boost to women’s contribution to the economy.
The ASB’s Vice President Alison Henderson said that a change in childcare provision could see the contribution to the Scottish economy made by businesses owned by women reach £13bn – more than double the current figure of £5bn.