FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon pledges to improve childcare

NICOLA Sturgeon today pledged to “get on with the job” of improving Scotland’s childcare system after a report warned it must be radically expanded.

The SNP were told to 'begin listening to Scotland's parents' by their political rivals. Picture: John Devlin

Labour claimed that Scottish parents face some of the highest childcare costs in the world and urged the SNP Government start “listening to parents” in Scotland - claiming that thousands already miss out on their free entitlement at the moment.

The report by the Commission for Childcare Reform called for a “dramatic shift” in childcare provision in Scotland, moving away from just school hour care to “all-year round wraparound care.” The costs to parents should also be on a “sliding-scale” according to income.

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Iain Gray, Labour’s acting leader, said during First Ministers Questions today that more and more grandparents are being called on to fill in the void.

Mr Gray said: “The system of childcare in Scotland under the SNP isn’t working. It’s as simple as that. Parents need childcare that fits into their busy, modern lives.

“As schools across Scotland finish up for the summer holidays, the childcare arrangements of most parents fall into chaos. Neighbours, grandparents and family friends will be called upon to help out, but it shouldn’t have to be like that.

“For low income families childcare costs in Scotland present an insurmountable barrier to parents getting into work. The truth is we have some of the highest childcare cost in the world.”

Labour wants to see a cap on childcare costs set at 10% of a family’s income.

But Ms Sturgeon said Scotland already has lower average childcare costs than elsewhere in the UK.

She said: “There is no doubt that the cost of childcare is expensive - that’s why we’re determined to get on with the job improving it.

“Labour should reflect that if they had all the answers then why didn’t they implement those answers when they were in Government. Why didn’t they, a month or so ago at the UK general election, propose any of these ideas.

“As First Minister of this Government we will get on with the job of improving childcare for children and parents across the country.”