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Childcare Oral Question, 19/02/15 [S]

During First Minister's Question Time on 19 February 2015 Kezia Dugdale (Lab) asked the First Minister that today marks the first anniversary of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. Can the First Minister tell us whether the proportion of local authorities reporting sufficient childcare for full-time working parents in Scotland is higher or lower than that in England?

The First Minister  replied, the fact is that we do not yet have sufficient provision of funded childcare to meet the needs of all full-time working parents. That is precisely why the Government is committed to a further substantial extension of the provision of childcare. We have said that, if we are re-elected, over the next session of Parliament, we will increase provision to 30 hours a week for all three and four-year-olds and for eligible two-year-olds.

However, let us look at the progress that has been made. Since 2007, entitlement to early learning and childcare has increased to 600 hours, which is a 45 per cent increase in hours for three and four-year-olds and which saves families an average of £700 per child per year. The uptake of that provision is high. The latest annual statistics, which were published in December, showed that registration of three and four-year-olds was at 98.5 per cent. So this is a success story, but we still have work to do.

In January, I met the campaign group fair funding for our kids to discuss the experiences of some parents who are having difficulty in accessing the childcare to which their children are entitled in a way that suits their working patterns. We are working to address that. This is a success story, but of course we are determined to ensure that all parents and children who are eligible get the benefit of the Government’s significant expansion of free childcare

For the full answer to this and any subsidiary questions see the Scottish Parliament Official Report 19 February 2015 which is available from the Scottish Parliament website.

Further Information

Scottish Parliament Official Report 19 February 2015