Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has welcomed the First Minister’s announcement of a huge expansion in free early learning and childcare provision across Scotland.

The Scottish Government will double childcare spending to £840million a year by the end of this parliamentary term to ensure that all three and four-year-olds, along with eligible two-year-olds, will be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare a week from August 2020.

Mr Matheson said: “This expansion will help transform the lives of young children in Falkirk district by ensuring that they have access to high-quality learning and care. It’s also great news for parents, who will save around £350 per child a month on childcare costs.

“Our promise to deliver 30 hours a week of free childcare reaffirms the SNP Government’s commitment to making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. Along with the recently launched baby box and the decision to remove nursery premises from business rates, it’s another example of the progressive policies that will help our children to thrive.

“By nearly doubling free childcare provision from the current 16 hours, we will also help parents get back to work. We know that childcare costs remain a barrier to some people who want to return to employment – and this huge investment will change that because it’s exactly the kind of practical support that parents need.”