Covid-19 (Next Steps)

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

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The First Minister:

I substantively addressed the point about childminders in response to Alison Johnstone, so I will not repeat everything that I said.

I do not want any childminder fearing for the future of their business; indeed, I do not want anybody fearing for the future of their business when we can do something to avoid that. However, equally, I do not want parents fearing for the health and safety of their children, and it is really important that, as we take these decisions, we take them on the basis of the best possible evidence. That is why some decisions have taken longer than any of us would have liked—it is unavoidable. We are looking carefully at this decision, but we must ensure that the safety of children is central to everything that we do. I am sure that Willie Rennie agrees with that.

I addressed the point about the expansion of childcare earlier. There is not a uniform position; some local authorities will deliver the commitment more quickly than others and much closer to the original timescale. Beyond that, we will take every opportunity to accelerate the roll-out where we can. We cannot magic away the inevitable impact that Covid has had on the timescales, but nobody—certainly nobody in Government—is keener than I and the Deputy First Minister to see the commitment delivered as quickly as possible. We will work with local authorities to ensure that that happens.