Scottish Lib Dem social justice spokesperson Bruce Wilson highlights childcare problems

Former marine Bruce Wilson is the Scottish Lib Dems spokesperson for veterans and social justice. In this week’s Daily Record he wrote about the need for high quality childcare as a key element of a fairer society.

As the father of three children under 7, he and his wife know only too well the crippling costs of childcare:

While my eldest is in school and goes to after school club, there is no way for me and my wife to afford mortgage payments, bills and childcare for our twins, despite having decent salaries.

Nursery costs to cover full time work come to roughly £2,000 per month for both of them – a sum that is completely unachievable for most parents. Parents are often forced to leave the workforce.

And  it is most often women whose careers are adversely affected:

Too often women take this hit, taking them off the career ladder and losing key opportunities for career progression in the process. This means the gender pay gap persists, tax revenue is lost, and children miss out on early years education.

Establishing an effective childcare offer for young children would transform the lives of children and parents alike.

What would the Lib Dems do?

Scottish Liberal Democrats campaigned hard to convince ministers to extend the Scottish offer to two-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds, and in 2019 I extended the Scottish Lib Dem policy on childcare to provide extra funded hours from the end of maternity leave, thus helping rather than hindering parents who want to go back to work.

He said that the SNP had fallen short:

The limited offers available are so dysfunctional that the latest figures show that somehow, the number of two-year-olds in funded childcare is actually going down.

The SNP have always been more interested in looking progressive to achieve their ‘prize’ of leaving the UK. In the meantime, families will continue to suffer.

You can read the whole article here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Brad Barrows 23rd Oct '21 - 1:18pm

    As I understand it, the purpose of extending nursery provision is to give young people a better start in life than they may otherwise experience, with many children currently starting primary school well behind expected levels of language development, socialisation and social development – with some still not even toilet trained. Nursery provision is not just a way for the state to provide free childcare to high earning parents. Extending nursery provision to two-year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds was entirely the correct policy – but would not have benefited Bruce Wilson and his wife with their ‘decent salaries’.

  • Refreshing to hear Bruce Wilson campaigning for the need for high quality childcare as a key element of a fairer society.

    Back in May 2010, (I was a Lib Dem Social Care Convenor in Scotland at the time), I recall that there were over 3,500 Sure Start Centres in the UK. These Centres delivered major health benefits for youngsters in the most deprived areas, reducing the number of people taken to hospital and delivering millions of pounds in savings to the NHS, according to a later IFS study.

    Later research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that where Sure Start offered high levels of service in poor neighbourhoods in England, visits to hospital to treat injuries fell among all children of primary school age, and by a third of all 11-year-olds.

    Unfortunately after 2010, the same IFS research found that the Coalition Government’s cuts to children’s centre budgets were reduced by two-thirds. One of the consequences was the resignation in protest of Sarah Teather, the Lib Dem MP and minister for families and children’s services.

    Last year the IFS urged the government to acknowledge Sure Start’s “big positive effect on children’s health” in future public spending plans. I hope Mr Wilson, in making his present case, reflects on this and can emphasise to his colleagues the deleterious impact of the then (2010-15) UK Coalition Government’s cuts should never happen again.

  • Brad – 15 hours childcare for 3/4 year olds is not means tested

  • @David Raw – Sure Start
    I’m sure Sure Start and other related initiatives will be of great benefit in helping parents into work and to reskill as the economy rapidly changes. It will also help the generation that will start to take over from circa 2040 to be better prepared and thus help prevent a repeat of the skill shortages we are beginning to witness.

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