Anas Sarwar will today launch Scottish Labour’s manifesto, ahead of the Holyrood elections on May 6th, with the promise to “dramatically” increase affordable childcare alongside “the biggest job recovery scheme in the history of devolution”.
In the run-up to the Scottish parliamentary contests next month, the party will pledge to deliver a year-on-year increase on top of the expansion to 1,140 funded hours already planned by Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP government this year.
Scottish Labour has revealed ahead of its manifesto release on Thursday that it would seek to eventually offer 50 hours a week for every child in Scotland, in a bid both to address child poverty and to fuel the post-Covid economic recovery.
The party aims to deliver the “radical increase in support” for families by investing in childcare – alongside social care – as a “key growth sector” and a “vital infrastructure” that is considered to be greener than other industries.
“As we emerge from the collective trauma of Covid, we can’t afford to go back to the old arguments while our NHS loses funding, our children miss out on world-class education, businesses close and jobs go overseas.
“Child poverty is a national scandal, yet the SNP and the Tories are more interested on constitutional rows than delivering for the next generation,” Sarwar said, before urging Scots to “choose something different” in May.
“Voting Scottish Labour will deliver a parliament focused on solutions, not divisions. Our plans to expand childcare would lift families out of poverty, re-dress gender inequalities and fuel our economic recovery from Covid.”
The Women’s Budget Group has found that investment of 1% of GDP in the care sector would produce 2.7 times as many jobs in the economy as an equivalent investment in construction, showing that care is key in tackling the jobs crisis.
“Investment in care would also reduce the gender employment gap, as more women would be likely to be employed in the sector, and would also be more in line with the UK’s climate change commitments,” the research concluded.
Scottish Labour’s childcare plan would extend eligibility first by rolling out extra hours by age group, year by year, with a focus on the most vulnerable one and two-year-olds and on early years settings in the first five years.
Sarwar has already unveiled policies for a ‘minimum income guarantee‘, for a £75 prepaid card that adults would be able to spend in non-food retail, a job guarantee to groups of under-25s and a new ‘Scottish skills benefit’.
Voters will go to the polls on May 6th to elect members of the Scottish parliament. Sarwar is standing against Nicola Sturgeon for the Glasgow Southside seat, while also being second on Labour’s list for the Glasgow region.