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Leslie calls for answers from SNP on opposition to extra free nursery care

October 17, 2013 8:41 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

The SNP candidate in the Dunfermline by-election has today been challenged to explain her party's opposition to expanding access to free nursery education in West Fife.

The challenge came from Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate and former Headteacher Susan Leslie who wants to expand free nursery education to 1,700 two year old children locally and match the support that is available in England.

Pointing to figures which show nursery care for two year-olds in Scotland costs an average of almost £100 per week, Ms Leslie warned that the SNP's failure to match the UK government's free care policy is a missed opportunity to help children and families in Dunfermline.

Commenting, Susan Leslie said:

"130,000 two years olds in England can now receive 15 hours of extra free care every week thanks to Liberal Democrats in Government. But the SNP refuse to give families in Scotland the same support here.

"Parents in Dunfermline who use childcare are being asked to spend £100 per week to ensure that their child gets the support they need. I know that we have many excellent nurseries in Fife but that is a big cost.

"At a time when many families are tightening their belts this extra help could make all the difference. It could be the difference between parents having the chance to get back into work or being forced to stay at home. And we know that helping a child before they reach the age of three can have big benefits years down the line.

"The Liberal Democrats have a costed plan to expand free nursery education for 1,700 two year olds in Fife but the SNP government have blocked the plan at every step. Willie Rennie has told the First Minister how he could pay for this extra care. He has chosen not to act. It is no wonder people tell me they think the SNP have got their priorities all wrong.

"Shirley-Anne Somerville needs to explain why her party is denying young children this chance. The stark fact is that this is a missed opportunity to help families in Dunfermline. "