£190 million announced in the budget will give 121,000 children a year more free nursery hours – helping parents back into jobs, the Scottish government has said.
The funing will save parents around £700 per child a year, give children more time at nursery and offer parents more options, as set out in the Children and Young People Bill. Parents will have the choice of two full days a week rather than the current 12.5 hours over five mornings or afternoons – making it easier to return to work or training.
Minister for Children Aileen Campbell said:
“We want to help more parents with nursery costs and this money will do that. It will pay for more nursery time for 121,000 children a year, including all three and four year olds and our most vulnerable two year olds. The Scottish Government is saving families £700 per child per year while the UK Government takes away from families, cutting their benefits by on average £700.
“By next year, councils must ask parents what they want and offer more choice. Together with the extra hours, this could mean two full days of nursery a week instead of a few hours a morning or afternoon – giving Mums, in particular, more choices and supporting more women back into work or training
“This is the best nursery care ever given to Scottish families. We are doing a great deal with the powers we have, and taking decisions in Scotland benefit Scots. But we want to do more. We want to have a childcare system among the best in Europe. The Bill is a first step towards this, but while the UK Government remains in control of tax and welfare, we will always be fighting the impact of decisions taken elsewhere.
“That is why we have asked the Council of Economic Advisers to consider how we can use the powers of an independent Scotland to give an even better deal for children, parents and our economic future.”