North Ayrshire Council is to receive an extra £1,262,000 from the SNP Scottish Government to provide additional childcare and nursery places.
The funding was announced as part of an overall £50m injection of funds to help deliver more free and flexible ‘early years’ provision across the country.
Local MSP Margaret Burgess welcomed the initiative, saying, “The funding for North Ayrshire Council will pay for more nursery care for local children, including all three and four year-olds, and the most vulnerable two year-olds.”
The Cunninghame South MSP said the SNP Scottish Government is working hard to help families, adding, “This move will provide parents with an annual saving of up to £700 per child, at the same time as the UK Government takes away from families, cutting their benefits by an average of £700.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said the new ‘early years’ funding is “designed to help families 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”.
As part of the programme, parents are to be offered more choice. Margaret Burgess explained, “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 mums, in particular, more choice and supporting more women back into work or training. This adds up to the best nursery care ever given to Scottish families.”
Mrs Burgess, also the Scottish Government’s Minister for Housing & Welfare, noted, “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 Scottish Government’s Children and Young People 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.
“That is why the Council of Economic Advisers has been asked to consider how we can use the powers of an independent Scotland to give an even better deal for children, parents and our economic future.”