Sturgeon must support childcare changes to support working families

With an additional £320m of funding coming into Scotland over the next two years and UK-wide policies such as extending the Energy Price Guarantee for the next three months and continuing a fuel surcharge freeze meant Jeremy Hunt’s budget was highly supportive of downtrodden families across the country, Which is grappling with the effects of the cost of living crisis.

On top of these measures, one other suggestion that struck me as a new parent was the transformative and ambitious changes Jeremy Hunt is driving forward for childcare in England.

Let me start by stating that this is a policy area in which I agree with SNP government.

The changes to Early Years Care in Scotland have been good, but we have to be honest and say they haven’t gone far enough.

The policy has been delayed for a year — admittedly, not helped by the Covid pandemic — but even before that, Nicola Sturgeon failed to deliver on the promise of 1,140 free hours of childcare.

The policy also starts too late for many parents looking to get back to work.

This is why the UK government’s announcement last week was so well received by parents, businesses and most people.

I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was surprised by Nicola Sturgeon’s self-congratulatory remarks in Parliament when asked about the policy.

My colleague, Scottish Conservative Deputy Leader Megan Gallacher, asked the First Minister if she would use Barnett’s findings to ensure Scotland was not left behind and matched the UK government’s proposals.

But instead of agreeing, Nicola Sturgeon launched into a rant about her incredible legacy and attacked the Tories…how predictable, right?

It’s another example of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP increasingly looking to connect with working families across the country.

Giving families the option of free 30-hour childcare for those between the ages of nine months and four years is truly a transformative policy that will help many struggling mothers return to work.

Like I said, I know Shannon, Joshua, and I stand to benefit greatly from this offer but unfortunately for us, the SNP doesn’t seem interested in supporting families. The number of early learning and childcare teachers has halved since the SNP came to power.

Even when you get 1,140 free hours, the problem of not providing childcare remains. When will the SNP be able to internalize the problem they have created in education?

From nursery school to university, nationalists stifled opportunities for working-class children across Scotland. Is it any wonder that the public turned against them?

Just this week in Dunblane and Allan Bridge voters gave their verdict on the Government of Scotland’s SNP/Green. The Scottish Conservatives took a seat from the SNP with our vote up 10%, compare that with the SNP up 0.9% and the Greens down 7%.

The feeling across Scotland is very clear, people are tired of this out of touch nationalist government.

So, with this past week’s First Minister in charge, I hope she will reflect on her bad and bitter approach to politics and change course. Will you use this week’s FMQ to answer a question and make a commitment to parents across the country that it will match Jeremy Hunt’s policy?

Unfortunately, many parents across the country will know the answer to this question and I won’t be holding my breath to change the situation.

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