Western Isles SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the passing of the Children and Young People Bill, during its initial stages in Parliament yesterday.
This bill, when finally approved by Parliament, will see the Scottish Government provide an extra £50 million to councils in 2014/15 for more free and flexible nursery care.
Parents of three and four year olds and the most vulnerable two year olds will be saved up to £700 a year, as their entitlement to free time in nursery is increased from 475 hours to 600 hours a year.
Alasdair Allan commented: “The £50.8 million the Scottish Government are giving councils will pay for more nursery care for local children, including all three and four year olds and the most vulnerable two year olds. This will benefit many families in the islands who presently devote much of their income to the cost of childcare.
“We are working hard to help families and to save them money, in contrast to the UK Government who are taking away from families, cutting their benefits by on average £700.
“This saving will help families to manage household costs without compromising the quality of care their children receive or forcing parents to make difficult choices about whether they can afford nursery or other necessities.
“By next year, all councils, including the Comhairle must also ask parents what they want and offer more choice. Together with the extra hours, this could mean two full days of nursery a week instead of a few hours a morning or afternoon – giving parents more choices and supporting more women back into work or training.
“This is the best nursery care ever given to Scottish families. We are doing a great deal with the powers we have, but we want to do more. We want to have a childcare system among the best in Europe. The Bill is a first step towards this, but while the UK Government remains in control of tax and welfare, we will always be fighting the impact of decisions taken elsewhere.”