The campaign for Scottish Independence and the YES vote has targeted improved childcare in Scotland and a greater level of public subsidy to reduce childcare costs. In the UK about 25% of childcare costs are met by the state, compared to 75% in Iceland and 80% in Germany. Childcare costs throughout the UK have been targeted over the past year, with costs continuing to rise. The UK and Scottish governments have already promised 600 hours of free nursery education, however in reality this is not being delivered in all Local Authorities due to shortfalls in budgets. So should we now believe there is a new solution around the corner. The First Minister claims that proposed changes will not happen in a day, or a year or even in the first term of an independent parliament, so will they ever happen and what comfort does this bring to cash strapped parents and childcare operators witnessing spiralling costs in staffing, utilities and resources.
The Government must deliver on its promises ensuring that 600 hours of free nursery education is delivered across all Local Authorities this will help parents struggling with the costs of childcare. The Government could also look at ways of supporting private childcare providers in a bid to lower operating costs, enabling potential savings to be passed on to parents. This could be done by allowing them to be VAT excempt on charges for rent, utilities and resources. Potential savings to operators could be in excess of £20,000 per year dependent on size of the childcare provider. These are solutions that the Government could action immediately ensuring that parents and services benefit now rather on what might be to gain a vote.
What ever happens in the future we are all aware that there is nothing for free in life. To subsidize childcare will mean an increase in taxes for hard working parents as the costs of childcare will continue to rise.