The delivery of affordable childcare is crucial for the development of children as well as providing support for families. Fundamental to this is that parents on low incomes need to be protected from the impact of enormous childcare costs.

The UK Government’s plans to close the childcare voucher scheme to new entrants is deeply concerning. The Government’s decision to keep the Childcare Voucher Scheme open until Oct 2018 (as opposed to April 2018) is simply kicking the impact of this policy into the long-grass.

The SNP continue to support policies which deliver for parents, ensuring they have the resources and flexibility they need to give their children the best start in life.

The UK Government must support working parents and keep this scheme going alongside the tax-free childcare scheme so that parents can choose what is most suitable for their needs and offers the most support to their family.

On the 13th March this issue was debated on the floor of the House, where SNP MPs voted in favour of the motion to annul this damaging policy. We also condemned the Tories for creating chaos and confusion for claimants around their entitlements – one of the key problems is that this is an extremely complex area and the interaction of vouchers and tax-free childcare with the benefits system is an additional layer of complicated bureaucracy for parents.

In Scotland the SNP Government have committed to almost doubling the funded Early Learning and Childcare entitlement from 600 to 1,140 by 2020 in a bid to transform the life chances of children in Scotland.

The SNP Government in Scotland’s universal childcare offer is unmatched in the rest of the UK – in Scotland all 3 and 4 year olds, and eligible 2 year olds, will benefit from 1,140 hours. The full entitlement is estimated to save families over £350 per child per month – £4,500 a year.

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