Scottish Lib Dems to extend free ELC

The Scottish Liberal Democrats has released its manifesto for the upcoming May elections including promises on childcare.Scottish Liberal Democrats logo

Willie Rennie promised if they win the election to expand nursery education to meet the existing promise of hours for 3 and 4-year-olds and to add the flexibility and choice parents were told to expect. 

Other promises in the manifesto include – 
  • Increasing the 1140 hours entitlement to cover all 2-year-olds 
  • Introducing an ambition to extend funded childcare to 1-year-olds 
  • Closing the poverty-related attainment gap
  • Remove for August the £4,500 ELC price tag hanging over families considering deferring Primary 1
  • Encouraging parents to study and learn new skills by extending childcare for students to cover periods of independent study and vocational placements.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA Scotland, said: “It’s crucial that decision-makers take note of our NDNA Scotland manifesto, Getting ELC Right for Scotland’s Children and focus on supporting the recovery of our early years sector for the sake of our youngest children.

“Therefore we welcome any commitment to invest in children’s learning because high quality early learning and childcare is what makes the biggest difference to children’s life chances.

“We are clear, any expansion of the existing offers for young children and their families must be fully costed and not place  additional burdens on childcare providers who have been struggling for years to deliver the existing offer. We cannot risk the ELC sector becoming unsustainable and unable to support young children at a time when they need the most help.

“Funding must follow the child to the family’s preferred provider and the future Scottish Government must commit to supporting the early years workforce through investment in upskilling and training.”

Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, commented: "I want to put recovery first to close the attainment gap and help children bounce back from the disruption to their learning.

"Thanks to the Scottish Liberal Democrats two-year-olds from poorer backgrounds are already entitled to funded childcare. This should help improve their chances, but uptake in Scotland is only half what it is in England. The outreach work hasn't been done meaning many parents don't even know about the entitlement.

"We will now go further and make a big liberal offer to all families. Extending childcare to all two-year-olds will boost uptake, help close the poverty-related attainment gap and help parents who want to return to work.

"The independent Audit Scotland just concluded progress on the attainment gap was 'limited' and 'fell short' when it was supposedly Nicola Sturgeon's defining mission. She asked to be judged on it. We are winning votes from the SNP because people don't want education to play second fiddle to a referendum in the next parliament.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats will put recovery first with a needle-sharp focus on education and a big liberal offer for early learning and childcare."

Find out more here.

Read NDNA Scotland’s manifesto Getting ELC Right for Scotland’s Children here.