Maree Todd hails 'transformative' childcare plans by SNP
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SNP candidate Maree Todd has hailed her party's "transformative" plans to further expand childcare, saying they will improve women’s workplace opportunities as well as providing job opportunities in the sector.
The party's manifesto includes a pledge to introduce a wraparound childcare system, providing care before and after school, all year round. Families on low incomes will pay nothing, with others making a "fair and affordable" contribution.
The SNP says it will also expand free early-years education to all one and two-year-olds, with children from low-income households set to benefit first.
This follows the Scottish Government's roll-out of 1140 hours of fully funded early learning and childcare to all three and four-year-olds and around a quarter of two-year-olds, which is set to be completed in August this year.
Ms Todd implemented the 1140 hours childcare expansion in the last parliamentary term in her role as Scotland's minister for children and young people.
“The SNP’s plans to provide a wraparound childcare system and further expand early learning and childcare will be transformative for families here in the Highlands," the candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross said.
“We know that a real challenge for women returning to work is high childcare costs. Figures show that gender inequality is exaggerated here in the Highlands, with women underemployed and men more likely to hold higher-paid positions.
“The SNP’s plans will not only improve women’s workplace opportunities, work to close the gender pay gap and increase family finances, but it will provide substantial job opportunities in the childcare sector, giving a boost to the economy.”
She added: “The last year has been extremely tough on families throughout the Highlands. As we look to recover, supporting families has to be front and centre.
"The SNP has a proven track record of delivering on this and we’re committed to going even further."