Race to guarantee area’s free childcare

John Lamont MSP Scottish Conservative Party
John Lamont MSP Scottish Conservative Party

Local MSP John Lamont has raised concerns that families in the Borders could lose out on extra free childcare due to local facilities not being ready in time.

Education Secretary Mike Russell recently admitted that he cannot guarantee that all two-year-olds eligible for a childcare place from the beginning of August will actually get one.

The costs of delivering the policy have already increased by a third to £61 million, and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities estimate it could be as high as £114 million. With negotiations between government and local authorities ongoing, there is no guarantee the funding or facilities will be ready in time for August.

Mr Lamont said: “I know that many families across the Borders have struggled to deal with childcare costs in recent years. It can be very expensive, and more parents have had to stay at home to look after their children to avoid having to pay for it.

“That is why it is so important that we offer free childcare to those who need it. The UK has led the way on free childcare provision, and although the SNP have taken a while to catch up, they promised to provide childcare for all eligible two year-olds from this August.”