FUNDING PACKAGE AGREED TO DELIVER 1140 HOURS OF FREE CHILDCARE

Scottish ministers have agreed a funding package with councils to ensure that every three- and four-year-old will have access to 1140 hours of free childcare by 2020.

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has welcomed the multi-year deal reached with COSLA, which will see the Scottish Government invest an extra £567million a year by 2021-22 and bring the total annual public spend on early learning and childcare to £990million.

Councils will also be provided with £476million of capital funding over four years to support building projects associated with the huge expansion of childcare provision.

Mr Matheson said: “This deal is excellent news for children and families across Falkirk district as it means the funding is now in place to deliver this ambitious policy, which is a key priority for the SNP Government.

“By providing 1140 hours a year of high-quality nursery education for every three- and four-year-old, as well as eligible two-year-olds, we will not only transform the life chances of our children but also save families about £4500 per child per year.

“This agreement is a great example of the Scottish Government and local authorities working together to deliver for our communities.”

COSLA resources spokeswoman Gail Macgregor said: “Scotland’s council leaders are fully behind this policy. The multi-year funding deal is a culmination of months of hard work, negotiation and real partnership working behind the scenes.

“We needed to get this policy right from the start, together with the level of funding. I think we have achieved this by working together.”

COSLA education spokesman Stephen McCabe added: “This is a bold deal between national and local government on a transformational policy that will be beneficial for the young people of Scotland.”