Smith Commission: Devo talks focus on childcare

THE chairman of the commission set up to deliver new powers to Scotland is to meet with childcare workers today.

The Smith Commission is discussing new powers with childcare workers today. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Lord Smith of Kelvin will hold discussions with Scotland’s Childcare Alliance on the need to reform the country’s childcare system through taxation, welfare and employment. The issue is viewed as a key priority in the talks on further devolved powers.

Jackie Brock, chief executive of Children in Scotland, will chair the meeting and wants to see Holyrood given “full control over welfare and benefits relating to children, families and work”.

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She said: “Childcare provides one example why we believe these powers must be devolved. We cannot secure a stronger economy and social justice without transforming our childcare system.

“If we are to achieve this, we require a genuinely integrated and coherent childcare system with all income tax and benefits decided by one government - not two.”

Earlier this week, the commission held its first all-party talks in Edinburgh aimed at securing a new deal on more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

Lord Smith said they were “constructive” discussions, with “important principles” agreed between all parties.

“We have good people round the table, each with their own deeply held views, who have committed to work together to achieve a positive outcome to this process,” Lord Smith added.

“We had a constructive discussion and agreed some important principles, which will guide us towards an agreement on a package of substantial and cohesive new powers to strengthen the Scottish Parliament within the UK.”

The commission has asked for contributions from civic Scotland and the chairman is to host a number of meetings with various groups across the country in the coming weeks.

Under the timetable already agreed for reform, an agreement on recommendations for what new powers should be transferred north has to be reached by the end of November, with draft legislation produced by the end of January 2015.