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Childcare announcement shows what devolution can deliver for families

January 7, 2014 5:44 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Commenting after the First Minister announced that the Scottish Willie RennieWillie RennieGovernment is to extend free nursery care to 27 percent of two year olds by next year, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie MSP said:

"After a yearlong campaign to persuade the First Minister to extend free childcare provision I am delighted he has agreed. Today we heard a commitment to go some way to ensuring two year olds in Scotland do not fall behind their counterparts south of the border. As a result of this change of heart by the First Minister, 5,400 extra two year olds will walk through the doors of nurseries across Scotland next September.

"The Scottish Government are not going quite as far or as fast as we might have liked, but I give them credit for listening to the argument and changing their position. Delaying action for children until after the referendum was in no-one's interest. This step will help to build a stronger economy and fairer society which enables more young people to get on in life.

"Those children will look back in twenty years' time and be so pleased that their Scottish Parliament took these bold steps. It shows that devolution can deliver."

Liam McArthur, Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson who has pressed for more childcare on the Scottish Parliament's education committee, said:

"Working with organisations such as Save the Children, Children 1st and others I have consistently made the case to extend free childcare now for two year olds from the poorest backgrounds. All the evidence shows that this is one of the most effective ways to address the disadvantages some of our most vulnerable children and young people face.

"Until now, we were told by SNP Ministers that increased early learning and childcare was only possible with independence. Today we are told that this is not the case. I welcome that move.

"It remains the case that 40 percent of two year olds in England will benefit from free childcare compared to 27 percent in Scotland. I want to close that gap. I will continue to campaign in the education committee for this to be extended and hope we will now be able to capitalise on the new-found political will of the Scottish government."