Edinburgh council budget: £5m to expand free childcare for primary school children under SNP plans

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Primary school children would get free childcare on Friday afternoons.

SNP Councillors have announced plans to expand free childcare for primary school children in Edinburgh.

As part of the budget plans the party has allocated more than £5m to provide after school clubs on Fridays, meaning parents could pick their children up at 3.30pm.

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Currently schools in Edinburgh have a half day on Friday meaning parents have to pick up children at around 12 o’clock each Friday, or pay for additional childcare.

The gap has regularly been cited by parents as a problem, as they face an 'impossible choice' of losing income from being unable to work on Fridays or have to pay for existing after school clubs with significant charges.

Group leader Adam Nols-McVey said: "A universal, free service on a Friday will make a huge difference to parents and not just on a Friday. We also hope it will strengthen provision of services on other days. Currently it can be patchy. Guaranteed Friday childcare would help address that by giving certainty to groups that provide after school clubs and helping anchor the services."

Cllr Simita Kumar outside Edinburgh's Gaelic school. Under SNP plans all primary school children would get free after school childcare on Fridays.Cllr Simita Kumar outside Edinburgh's Gaelic school. Under SNP plans all primary school children would get free after school childcare on Fridays.
Cllr Simita Kumar outside Edinburgh's Gaelic school. Under SNP plans all primary school children would get free after school childcare on Fridays. | Supplied

Unveiling their proposals for the city council's 2024-25 budget, the SNP said they would slash spending on agency staff and save £1.5 million by bringing contracts in-house. They will also use Scottish Government funding to keep the council tax freeze.

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It follows on from the SNP delivery of 1140 hours of free early years nursery care for all 3 and 4 year olds.

A recent study found that parents with lower incomes pay on average three times more of their salary on childcare than those on higher incomes. Research has also shown that childcare considerations still fall to women more than men.

 Cllr Simita Kumar, The SNP Education Spokesperson said:

 “We know from speaking to parents how difficult a half day on Friday is. Some parents have the impossible choice of losing a day’s pay, or enrol in childcare that swallows up most of what they are able to earn. By providing this new provision on Friday afternoons, parents who need it can pick up their kids at the same time as the other days of the week.

“It’s our job, even in opposition, to try and make lives better for people in Edinburgh and this policy would deliver a transformative impact for parents across the City. We have an enormous amount of ambition for our City and this is one example of a policy that can help deliver the best start for our kids and help parents manage the financial pressures of family life.”

The council meets next week to agree its spending plans and set the council tax for the next year. Each political group will put forward their own proposals.

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