Covid-19 (Next Steps)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th July 2020.

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Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Liberal Democrat

For weeks, I have been making a positive and constructive case for a joined-up approach on childcare. Thousands of parents have been asked to go back to work without childcare arrangements being in place, so I am relieved that we might finally have something that might work. If physical distancing indoors for under 12s has gone and childcare fully reopens next Wednesday, that might allow parents to get back to work.

However, the advice on childminding needs to keep pace with the education advice, because the risk to the childminding sector is clear. More than 80 per cent of childminders fear for their future, which is serious. I hope that the First Minister will respond to that.

The First Minister knows that I am an advocate for good early learning and childcare and that I support the expansion to 1,140 hours of provision. I understood that many of the nurseries could not be built or refurbished in time for the expansion in August because the construction industry had to shut, but I was surprised to learn that the nursery expansion has been delayed for a year. Why does a three-month lockdown result in a 12-month delay for parents, carers and children around the country?