Childcare pledge 'would save £4,600'

Scottish Parliament

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From Democracy Live: The White Paper debate in the Holyrood chamber

Childcare plans in the independence White Paper would see families save up to £4,600 per child each year, First Minister Alex Salmond has told MSPs.

During a debate on the newly published independence blueprint, he insisted the government had great ambitions.

MSPs are being given the chance to debate 670-page White Paper in more detail.

Former Chancellor and leader of the Better Together campaign, Alistair Darling, called the pledge “cynical”.

Start Quote

The assumption that simply by Scotland going it alone we will somehow be more radical, more progressive, is simply not true”

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Johann Lamont
Scottish Labour leader

A referendum on Scottish independence will be held on 18 September next year, with voters being asked the straight yes/no question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

The White Paper, which contains the arguments in favour of independence and is intended as a guide to what might happen if it is achieved, was launched by Mr Salmond at Glasgow’s Science Centre on Tuesday morning.

Return to work

Proposals included extending the support available to young people and their families and to expand childcare provision to match the best in Europe.

Under its plans, it said children would be entitled to 30 hours of childcare each week – the same number of hours as a child at primary school – benefiting about 240,000 children.

Nursery class

The White Paper says the education system could play a greater role in lifting people out of poverty

Before the debate got under way, Mr Darling described the childcare plan as “cynical politics at its worst”.

He added: “The SNP have the opportunity to make childcare easier and more accessible to people in Scotland right now – but won’t do it as they would rather offer it as a bribe for votes in the referendum.

“They would happily see people denied the chance to earn a living because it doesn’t fit in with their plans for Scotland to go it alone.”

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont claimed the proposals were not costed.

Interviewed on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, she said: “Issues like childcare are not just about women sitting at home unable work, but about people who are in work juggling childcare pressures.

‘Not credible’

“So there’s not a direct simple ‘we will invest in childcare and that means more people will be in work’.”

She added: “The cynicism of it is that you will get it after the referendum.

She claimed the Scottish government was offering to cut taxes while improving services, and this was “not credible”.

Scotland’s Finance Secretary John Swinney, who also spoke to the Good Morning Scotland programme, said after independence was achieved it would be important to “put all of our focus on resolving the issues that need to be resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible”.

Asked what would be the biggest challenge, the minister said: “I don’t think it’s easy to separate the issues out. There will be major issues and some of the defence questions [including] the removal of nuclear weapons from Scottish soil and waters which is something that we are absolutely determined has to happen.”

The White Paper confirmed that Scotland would seek to secure a Sterling currency union with the remainder of the UK after independence, and asserted that the country would negotiate for a smooth transition to EU and Nato membership.

The document also makes a series of pledges to be fulfilled if the SNP forms the first government in a newly-independent Scotland.

These included:

  • Thirty hours of childcare per week in term time for all three and four-year-olds, as well as vulnerable two-year-olds.
  • Trident nuclear weapons, currently based on the Clyde, removed within the first parliament.
  • Housing benefit reforms, described by critics as the “bedroom tax”, to be abolished, and a halt to the rollout of Universal Credit.
  • It would be in Scotland’s interest to keep the pound, while the Bank of England would continue as “lender of last resort”.
  • BBC Scotland replaced at the start of 2017 with a new Scottish broadcasting service, continuing a formal relationship with the rest of the BBC.
  • Basic rate tax allowances and tax credits to rise at least in line with inflation.
  • A safe, “triple-locked” pension system.
  • Minimum wage to “rise alongside the cost of living”.

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Childcare pledge 'would save £4,600'
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childcare – Yahoo News Search Results

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