Labour have faced questions about their childcare proposals today – after the Scottish Parliament’s information centre made clear that the party had failed to provide even basic details of how the policy is to be funded and what its economic impact would be.
While Labour has failed to provide a costing for their proposals – SPICe figures show that the cost would be around £750m. However, SPICe has also confirmed that Labour’s plans would have additional costs but that “there is insufficient detail in the [Together We Can] document to enable these proposals to be costed.”
SPICe has also stated that Labour are unable to provide details of how the policy would be funded – stating that “Labour party researchers have indicated that they are still in the process of deciding the policy details and funding”.
Any positive economic impact Labour’s plans would make is also unclear – with SPICe confirming that Labour’s plans “don’t outline the anticipated impact on female participation in the work force and the supporting background information also does not show the likely scale of impact on female participation.”
In contrast, Scotland’s Future sets out clear plans for a transformational childcare policy in an independent Scotland – which would see children from age one to five entitled to 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare.
Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam said:
“These SPICe findings are a real blow to Labour and their uncosted, undetailed plans which give every indication of having been worked out on the back of a fag packet.
“The lack of even basic detail in their plans shows that Labour just isn’t serious about childcare – and their proposals were nothing more than a desperate response to the transformational childcare plans set out in Scotland’s Future.
“Labour don’t even know how much their own proposals would cost – they need to go back to the drawing board and work out the basics before anyone can take them seriously.
“With SPICe telling us Labour’s plans will cost £750m – Johann Lamont needs to tell us how she intends to pay for this policy. With the limited powers of devolution Scotland’s budget is fixed – what existing services would she cut to pay for these plans?
“Labour’s uncosted plans stand in stark contrast to the SNP’s transformational childcare plans after a Yes vote – which will benefit around 240,000 children in their early years, help get more parents back into work and make sure that the tax revenue from increased economic activity is reinvested in Scotland’s future rather than flowing to the Treasury in London.”
The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) carried out an analysis, dated 16th May 2014, on Labour’s childcare policy, set out in “Together we can”. The SPICe research found the following:
· Economic benefits: SPICe responded that “the proposals from Labour don’t outline the anticipated impact on female participation in the work force and the supporting background information also does not show the likely scale of impact on female participation.”
· Cost of plans: SPICe estimated that “the combined cost of providing 25 hours per week childcare for all 3 and 4 years olds and 15 hours per week for half of two year olds would be in the region of £750m per year.”
However, the response also states that there is insufficient detail to calculate associated costs of flexibility. The SPICe response states: “the ‘Together We Can’ document does go on to discuss flexibility in provision and investment in the childcare workforce. These would also have associated costs, but there is insufficient detail in the document to enable these proposals to be costed.”
· Identifying funding: SPICe responded that “Labour party researchers have indicated that they are still in the process of deciding the policy details and funding. They are currently working up a range of child care policy options and are actively examining the public expenditure costs. Some issues around costing include waiting for the capital cost estimates from the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill. They have told me that they will set out their policy in due course after the Labour Party’s democratic process, in the form of policy forums, has concluded.
Professor Sir Donald MacKay, a leading economist, former Chair of Scottish Enterprise and an economic adviser to past Secretaries of State for Scotland, in written evidence to the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, made clear that transformational childcare would not be possible under devolution and needed the full economic powers of independence to workable said:
“No financially responsible Scottish Government would dare to implement the childcare proposals under the fixed block grant funding of devolution, unless they were prepared to take an axe to existing programmes when there was already strong downward pressure on the real value of the existing block grant.”
Source Article from http://www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2014/may/spice-confirms-labour-childcare-plans-lack-detail
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