Scottish election 2021: Increasing childcare to 50 hours 'will take time', says Scottish Labour

Scottish Labour will look to increase childcare to 50 hours a week – but not within the next parliament, deputy leader Jackie Baillie has admitted.

Speaking after the launch of the party’s women’s manifesto on Wednesday, in which Scottish Labour pledged to invest in childcare, Ms Baillie said the “incremental approach” to increasing childcare would take time and would not be implemented in the next five years.

She said: "Our approach would be an incremental one. We would look to ensure there are breakfast clubs, after school clubs and we would work to have an eventual increase year on year, the ambition being of offering 50 hours a week.

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"It is principally an economic measure, but obviously helps with the education of children as well.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie.

"It’s an eventual ambition. We think it will take longer than over the duration of this parliament because there are things to consider like making sure there is enough capacity in the system, physically, but also in terms of making sure the workforce is there and ready and able to provide this.”

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Ms Baillie said research by the Women’s Budget Group had found investment of 1 per cent of GDP in the care sector would produce 2.7 times as many jobs in the economy overall as an equivalent investment in construction.

Party leader Anas Sarwar said: "We are making progress in Scotland, albeit late in terms of meeting our commitments and promises we made to families across the country.

"I think its right that we have an ambition in Scotland to have wrap-around childcare with an ambition of 50 hours a week. That’s not going to happen overnight, that is going to take time.

"It will require dedicated time and we want to make sure not just that we hit the target, and then we stop, but we’ve got to make sure that we build on that year after year to make sure we eventually get to that ambition of 50 hours.

"If we recognise that so much of blockages that people think stops women from accessing the labour market is because of childcare issues and it’s important that we build an economy that works for everyone. It’s a big investment over time, but you get that investment back in terms of activating the economy and getting people into work.”

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