Thursday 28 Nov 2013 @ 12:07
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Childcare for all
Families will save up to an estimated £4,600 per child, per year under plans to extend childcare to every child from the age of one.
The proposed entitlement in an independent Scotland is for 30 hours of childcare each week – the same number of hours as a child in school.
The move will benefit around 240,000 children, 212,000 families and has the additional benefit of allowing more women to return to work by removing the barrier of childcare costs.
Implementation will be phased and the proposal will see the workforce expand in line with the hours, creating up to 35,000 jobs in the childcare sector, mainly for women.
Independence offers the opportunity to bring in this proposal as tax revenues generated by more women returning to work will stay in Scotland. Under devolution, increases in tax revenues – and savings from reduced benefits claims – go to Westminster.
Speaking ahead of the debate on ‘Scotland’s Future – Your Guide to an Independent Scotland’ in the Scottish Parliament, First Minister Alex Salmond said:
“Independence would enable us to bring about a transformational change in childcare. The early years are the most crucial years in a child’s development. Our plan will provide high quality childcare that is both flexible and affordable for parents.
“Our current childcare costs are lower than the rest of the UK but every working family with children knows it is a real burden on the family finances. Improving access to quality childcare will not just benefit children - it will help many more women into work.
“At the moment, without all the powers of independence, we have managed to prioritise childcare and are increasing the number of hours from 412.5 to 600.
“Independence offers us the powers to go much further. If we matched, for example, the female labour market participation of Sweden, this would generate an extra £700 million in tax revenue. As we progressively expand childcare, the tax revenue generated would pay for further expansion. Without independence, however, that revenue would leave Scotland, go to Westminster and not be available to fund the further expansion we need.
“With independence, we would keep this revenue here in Scotland to reinvest it in childcare for all, a model we know from countries such as Netherlands works well for children’s development, female participation in the labour market and the wider economy.
“This transformational change in childcare will help give children the best start in life, allow parents to choose to work without worrying about costs and create up to 35,000 new jobs. This is just one of the many opportunities to make Scotland a fairer, more prosperous country through independence.”
Notes to editors
In our first budget after Independence we will commit £100 million to extend 600 hours of childcare a year to nearly half of Scotland’s two year olds. This will be funded from the saving and increased revenues laid out in ‘Scotland’s Future – Your Guide to an Independent Scotland’ including reducing defence and security spending to £2.5 billion per year and ending the married couples tax allowance.
By the end of the first Parliament a further investment of £600 million would be made to reach the weekly offer of 30 hours of childcare to all three and four year olds and vulnerable two year olds. This transformational plan will show the benefits of independence to the people of Scotland.