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Parents attack Scottish Government on free childcare

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A campaign group of parents has accused the Scottish Government of making promises it cannot keep about free childcare places

Parents of pre-school children have rounded on the Scottish Government for promising free nursery places it cannot deliver.

Campaign group Fair Funding For Our Kids says Scotland will need 650 new nurseries and 3,250 new nursery staff in order to meet the government’s promise to double free nursery entitlement for three and four-year-olds by 2020.

The group, which met with cabinet secretary for education and lifelong learning Angela Constance recently, has said it is “frustrated and angry” with the Scottish Government’s inability to explain how it will deliver free childcare places.

You don't promise the kids something big for Christmas until you know you've got the money and how you're going to get it for them

Fair Funding For Our Kids was set up earlier this year by parents who say they are not able to access the 600 free hours childcare a year every 3 and 4-year old is currently entitled too. They say a shortage of statutory nurseries places are leaving as many as one in five kids missing out on their free places.

Earlier on this year, the First Minister committeed to double free childcare provision to 30 hours a week for all three and four-year olds and vulnerable two-year olds by 2020.

However, the group claims that during their meeting, the cabinet secretary was unable to say how many extra childcare places will be needed to fulfill the promise, how many new nursery buildings will be needed to house the new places, how much extra the new childcare promise will cost or how much money the Scottish Government will actually have available to spend on it.

Jenny Gorevan from Fair Funding For Our Kids said: "The plan to deliver infrastructure expansion on this scale by 2020 needs to be well in hand by now but the cabinet secretary doesn't have even ballpark figures on the most basic facts."

"We're mums and dads. We know how to budget. And we also know that you don't promise the kids something big for Christmas until you know you've got the money and how you're going to get it for them.

"Scotland has some of the highest childcare costs in Europe. The system needs radical overhaul not half-baked sloganeering. All our politicians have to come up with better before next year's elections."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The figures estimated by Fair Funding For Our Kids assume nothing will change between now and 2020 to deliver this increase in funded hours and fail to take account of Scotland's 5,500 childminders. They also assume that doubling the hours of free childcare available will mean that we will need to double the number of childcare places.

"This is not true. We can reassure parents that preparations are well under way to deliver this massive expansion of 1,140 hours and ensure a place for every eligible child. We have already made clear this delivery will cost around £800 million and will result in a significant increase in the early years workforce. We will work with local government to ensure the extra money being provided is used to create the new places.”



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