• STV
  • MySTV

Free childcare must be 'more flexible and accessible'

The Scottish Conservatives have also called for progress on a childcare voucher system.

Childcare: Scottish Government working with councils (file pic).
Childcare: Scottish Government working with councils (file pic). © D Sharon Pruitt, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet

Considerable improvements to the accessibility and flexibility of free childcare are needed, according to the Scottish Conservatives.

The party will use its debating time at Holyrood to raise issues surrounding the current provision and ministers' plans to almost double it by 2020.

It follows the publication of a report by the public spending watchdog warning of "significant risks" to the Scottish Government's policy.

The government has pledged to increase paid-for nursery places from the current 600 hours to 1140 for three and four-year-olds, and eligible two-year-olds, by August 2020, equivalent to about 30 hours a week in term time.

However, the Accounts Commission report said councils would find it difficult to increase the infrastructure and workforce to the levels required, in the limited time available.

The Tories said parents in some areas were already finding it difficult to access free hours at suitable times and locations.

Meanwhile the party also call for progress on a flexible childcare voucher system.

Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne said: "The Scottish Conservatives believe that the delivery of high quality childcare will not happen unless there are considerable improvements in its accessibility and flexibility for parents.

"Increasing the number of hours on a targeted basis is important but it can only bring limited benefit if these additional hours cannot be used effectively."

She added: "The Scottish Conservatives have long argued for a flexible childcare voucher system.

"Last year, the Scottish Government said it was looking to introduce exactly this to be known as a childcare account but nothing has happened. It is time to change all that and give parents what they want."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Government is committed to fully funding the expansion to 1140 hours and we are currently working with local authorities to consider the multi-year funding requirements, which we plan to agree with Cosla by the end of April.

"Our focus for the expansion is on ensuring high-quality provision and increasing choice for parents and carers.

"With regards to a childcare account, we made very clear in the blueprint action plan for 2017-18, which we published last March, that we consider there to be some merit in this approach at an appropriate time.

"We are in the process of commissioning a feasibility study to explore the costs and benefits of introducing such an account in the future, to ensure that we give careful consideration to the associated practical and systems requirements."

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.