Call for radical change on childcare

The issue of childcare was firmly on the political agenda at the start of the summer when the Commission for Childcare Reform published its final report in June. Publication resulted in widespread media coverage and discussion at First Minister's Questions at Holyrood. First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the report, and said that the Scottish Government would carefully consider the recommendations.

The commission was set up by the Childcare Alliance, a network of partners drawn from civic society, business and the childcare sector, and led by Children in Scotland and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI).

Through 15 months of intense consultation, the commission developed recommendations identifying fundamental issues in childcare to be addressed. These included:

  • Families should have up to 50 hours of free or subsidised childcare a week throughout the year
  • The net cost of childcare to parents should be on a sliding scale which takes account of income to ensure affordability for all families; and there should be priority for smoothing cost burdens for all families and supporting those living in or near poverty
  • A child account should be established for each child, to provide a transparent route through which all money (public or private) used to pay for or subsidise childcare is channelled to providers
  • The Scottish Government, working with the UK Government, local authorities and providers, should review of all aspects of funding childcare

Colin MacLean, former director of financial strategy at the Scottish Government chaired the commission. He said that the report asked the Scottish Government to address the country's 'childcare challenge' - ensuring that when parents need to use childcare in order to work or study, they can access high-quality, affordable, flexible provision and be confident that it meets the needs of their child.

Children in Scotland chief executive, Jackie Brock, said the report provided a powerful base for taking forward Scotland's priorities to reduce poverty and support equality adding, 'In Scotland in 2015 far too many families are finding that, instead of working for them, the childcare settlement is making their lives more difficult and less secure. The current mix of provision and support is incoherent, too often resulting in stress, division, financial problems and the hampering of progress in careers and education.'

She commented that the only realistic route to correcting this was for Holyrood and Westminster to collaborate, bringing forward the commission's calls and working together on policy and legislation to create the change needed to support families.

Read the commission's report (PDF download)