Scottish Liberal Democrats have today warned that councils will need to find up to £160m to deliver the SNP Government’s commitment of 1,140 hours of free early learning childcare, after a new report warned that SNP funding for the program fell far short of what was needed.
A new Accounts Commission report published today reveals that raising the amount of free early learning childcare to 1,140 hours per year by 2021 will cost local authorities £1billion, despite the government’s estimated funding for the policy coming in at just £840million.
Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson for children and young people Sheila Thomson said:
"The Scottish Government needs to attract thousands of new workers to deliver its childcare promises but these new figures show there is not enough juice in the tank to help local authorities deliver.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats pressed SNP ministers to invest in early years support, which is proven to be the best way to improve a child's life chances. However, we know they are already behind, with capacity actually decreasing in some areas, fewer GTCS-registered teachers and take-up by 2-year-olds well below expectations.
"More and more organisations doubt if the Scottish Government can meet its target. SNP ministers need to offer assurances to local authorities as to how this gap will be bridged."