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Nursery expansion progress laughable, Tory MSP claims

Nicola Sturgeon pledged that by 2021, around 750 nurseries across the country would be ‘built, expanded or refurbished’.

The Scottish Government has pledged to expand provision of nursery care (Andrew Matthews/PA)
The Scottish Government has pledged to expand provision of nursery care (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Scottish Government has been accused of making “laughable” progress towards achieving its target of expanding nursery care.

Last year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged that by the end of the current Parliament in 2021, around 750 nurseries across the country would be “built, expanded or refurbished”.

However, in response to a written question by Scottish Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton, minister for children and young people Maree Todd indicated that, so far, a total of 97 nurseries have been built, extended or refurbished since August 2017.

It represents 13% of the nurseries needed to achieve the government’s target of 750.

The Scottish Conservatives suggest the government could fall short by around 500 nurseries if the current rate of progress is maintained.

The SNP has made so little progress towards their own target on nursery capacity it is laughable Scottish Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton

The Scottish Government has also promised to increase free childcare from 600 hours to 1,140 hours per year by 2020.

Rachael Hamilton MSP said: “The SNP has made so little progress towards their own target on nursery capacity it is laughable.

“Nicola Sturgeon herself has promised that 750 nurseries will be built, expanded or refurbished by 2021, yet the SNP is nowhere near.

“The SNP has taken almost two years to upgrade or build 97 nurseries in total.

“With this kind of progress, how on earth can they promise each child will have 1,140 hours of childcare next year?

“Yet again it seems that there is a massive gulf between the SNP’s promises and the reality of their delivery.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “These figures only capture the very early phase of the expansion and exclude the many hundreds of projects now either under way or at an advanced stage of development.

“We are therefore very confident that councils will comfortably meet the pledge of around 750 new or refurbished nurseries.”

PA

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