Labour to launch manifesto with vow to deliver 50 hours of free childcare every week
Labour will launch their manifesto today with a vow to deliver 50 hours of free childcare every week.
Currently, parents receive 600 hours of free childcare a year - roughly 16 hours per week in term time. In August this is due to rise to 1,140 hours a year for all three and four-year-olds, and a quarter of two-year-olds.
Anas Sarwar has said his party will invest in childcare as a “key growth sector” and “component of Scotland’s recovery”.
The party pointed to research by the Women’s Budget Group which said one per cent of GDP in the care sector would produce 2.7 times as many jobs in the economy overall as an equivalent investment in construction.
Sarwar said: “As we emerge from the collective trauma of COVID, we can’t afford to go back to the old arguments while our NHS loses funding, our children miss out on world-class education, businesses close and jobs go overseas.
“Child poverty is a national scandal, yet the SNP and the Tories are more interested on constitutional rows than delivering for the next generation.
“At this election, we can choose something different.
“Voting Scottish Labour will deliver a parliament focused on solutions, not divisions.
“Our plans to expand childcare would lift families out of poverty, re-dress gender inequalities and fuel our economic recovery from COVID.
“Scotland deserves a better government, and it deserves a better opposition, and we can vote for it in May.”
Meanwhile, the SNP’s Keith Brown said Sarwar was increasingly at odds with his party’s supporters over his refusal to back a second independence referendum.
Yesterday, delegates at the STUC Congress backed a motion stating that the Scottish Parliament should have the power to hold a referendum on Scotland’s future and should not require UK Government consent, while an Ipsos MORI poll published earlier this week found that two-thirds of 2019 UK Labour voters would support a referendum if a pro-independence majority is returned at the election.
Sarwar has repeatedly said he won’t back a new vote. Last week he told reporters: “I’m unequivocal in terms of my position on not supporting a referendum on independence.”
Speaking ahead of Labour’s manifesto launch, Brown said: “Labour may have yet another new leader, but it’s the same old anti-democratic position of denying the people of Scotland’s right to determine their own future - they are completely out of touch with their own supporters.
“Anas Sarwar is also at odds with the trade unions, who have made clear their support for the basic democratic principle that there should be a referendum if the people of Scotland vote for one.
“Rather than letting the people of Scotland decide what kind of recovery they want to build after the pandemic, a vote for Labour means leaving the key decisions about Scotland’s future in the hands of Boris Johnson and the Tories.”
Elsewhere on the campaign trail, the Scottish Tories will be in Blantyre to launch plans to create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “We have outlined a detailed blueprint to get Scotland’s economy moving again and start repairing the damage from COVID.
“Restrictions could be safely eased at a faster pace now to kick-start the economy and Scottish Conservative proposals would help businesses get back on their feet, so they can protect current jobs and start creating the jobs of the future.
“The looming jobs crisis must be treated as an economic emergency and tackled urgently by a Scottish Parliament 100 per cent focussed on Scotland’s recovery.”