Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and leading campaigner for improved childcare provision in Scotland, Willie Rennie MSP, has said that a stronger Scottish Parliament inside the UK provides the brightest hope for expanding childcare.
Speaking during a visit to a leading nursery in Edinburgh, Mr Rennie, who led successful efforts to increase childcare provision in Scotland, warned that the SNP's independence plans threatened further expansion of childcare. He argued that the £6 billion fiscal gap in public spending, identified by the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies, could devastate childcare and other public services.
Willie Rennie MSP said:
"I am proud that Liberal Democrats have led the agenda on childcare. Despite their long term resistance the Scottish Government eventually worked with me to expand provision for childcare to thousands of extra young children.
"I am pleased the nationalists ambition to expand childcare further receives such top billing in their White Paper.
"But it is that White Paper and their independence plans that pose the biggest threat to childcare in Scotland.
"The £6 billion fiscal gap in public spending, identified by the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies, would devastate childcare and other public services. To put it in context £6billion is around half the NHS budget or the whole of the education budget. Slicing £6billion from public spending will have savage effect on services we value like childcare.
"So far from expanding childcare provision, independence will threaten it.
"Staying in the UK provides the brightest hope of continuing to improve childcare so that even more children get the best chance they need to get on in life. Building a stronger Scotland within the UK means we can shape our own domestic agenda whilst benefitting from the broad shoulders of the UK family of nations."