Comment on NASUWT survey

26 June 2018

Commenting on a survey by the union NASUWT, showing only half of teachers feel satisfied in their jobs, Scottish Labour's education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

"These are shocking figures that once again expose how teachers and pupils across the country are being failed by this SNP government.

“With thousands of fewer teachers since the SNP came to power, and salaries now down by 20 per cent in real terms, it is no surprise so many are feeling dissatisfied or would choose a different profession.

“While SNP Education Secretary John Swinney wastes his time on school governance reforms which will not improve our schools, overworked and underpaid teachers are having to manage ever larger numbers of children in classes.

“No wonder the attainment gap between the richest and the poorest kids remains stubbornly large with teachers increasingly unable to give pupils one-to-one support. No wonder we have a teacher recruitment crisis.

“It is time John Swinney restored teachers’ pay and gave our children the resources they need to succeed in school.

“Scottish Labour will always be on the side of teachers and pupils.”


22 June 2018

SNP-run Glasgow City Council will dramatically reduce its planned hike in childcare fees after sustained pressure from families and Scottish Labour.

The council was planning to increase fees by 57 per cent in a bid to bridge the funding gap in its budget created by the SNP government in Edinburgh.

Nationalist councillors have now cut the hike to 18 per cent after sustained pressure from concerned families and local Labour representatives.

It's not up to ordinary families to properly fund Glasgow, it's up to the SNP government in Edinburgh.

It's time SNP councillors stood up for the city instead of passing on cuts to parents.

These families are owed nothing less than an apology by the SNP for the stress and worry inflicted upon them.

Commenting on the news, Glasgow Labour MSP Johann Lamont said:

"It is welcome news that thousands of families across Glasgow will not be facing such a substantial fee hike.

“It is frankly appalling it took so long for the SNP leadership in Glasgow to realise the damage their decision to increase nursery fees by 57 per cent would inflict upon thousands of hard-pressed families across the city.

"It is thanks to the sheer persistence of campaigners that forced this U-turn from the SNP.

“The SNP owe parents an apology and they must work fast to let families know exactly how much they will pay in August.

"However, the cost of childcare is still going by 18 per cent across the city as the SNP council tries to plug a budget blackhole created by SNP government ministers in Edinburgh.

"I will continue to work with parents across Glasgow who need support.

"Parents should not be forking out extra cash to sort out the city's finances.

"SNP councillors should instead be standing up for Glasgow and demanding that the city gets the funding it needs.

"Scottish Labour will always put families first and use the powers of the parliament to stop cuts to public services."


22 June 2018

Councils are having to dig even deeper into their dwindling cash reserves to plug funding gaps created by SNP government cuts, a new report has revealed.

A Scottish Government report states that local authorities spent £126 million from their funds in the last financial year, that’s up from £79 million in the previous year.

The number of councils resorting to these emergency measures has also increased over the period from 19 to 24.

It should come as no surprise after SNP ministers cut council budgets by £1.5 billion in recent years.

As SNP cuts continue to bite, the report estimates an additional £113 million worth of reserves will be used during this current financial year in a bid to balance the books.

Scottish Labour says it is high time the SNP stopped cutting council budgets and used the powers of the parliament to end austerity.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance, James Kelly said:

“This is a deeply concerning report into the finances of councils across Scotland.

“The SNP government has cut £1.5 billion from local authorities and now they are forced to use emergency measures in a bid to balance the books.

“And while communities across the country bare the brunt of SNP austerity cuts to their much needed services, we now know SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay kept almost half a billion aside for his slush fund to bribe Green MSPs to get his budget passed.

“It is time the SNP government stood up for our communities and used the vast powers of the Parliament to end austerity.

“Scottish Labour will continue to fight for well-funded public services to help build a society that works for the many, not the few.”


21 June 2018

The SNP government has underspent almost half a billion pounds last year whilst inflicting brutal austerity cuts across the country, new figures show.

SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has today [Thursday] admitted that he has set aside £453m of funds as an ‘underspend’. This is money that should be used to support our public services.

Instead of funding these vital services, the SNP government has opted to cut council budgets by £1.5 billion since 2011.

Scottish Labour is calling on Mr Mackay to apologise to workers facing the axe whilst he sits on millions of pounds in St. Andrew’s House.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance James Kelly said:

“Labour will always fight to protect Scotland’s vital public services.

“The news that SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay underspent almost half a billion pounds whilst cutting council budgets by £1.5 billion.

“Money is piling up in his slush fund for his annual bribe to win Green votes to get his budgets passed.

“This is simply a gross mismanagement of Scottish finances by a Finance Secretary that is clearly out of his depth.

"Throughout his tenure as Finance Secretary, Mr. Mackay his tinkered on tax instead of ensuring the richest pay their fair share to fund our schools, hospitals and other vital public services.

“Derek Mackay must apologise to communities across Scotland that have been damaged by his reckless actions.

“Scottish Labour will always put our public services first and will use the powers of the Parliament to end austerity.”


13 June 2018

The SNP government’s long delayed response to the student support review fails to reverse cuts made to grants and bursaries in 2013.

The government today outlines a range of new measures on student support – but falls short on a range of measures including:

• New bursaries for the poorest young students of £2,000 – £600 lower in cash terms than the value when the SNP slashed the value in 2013.

• Raising the repayment threshold for loans to £25,000 – but not until 2021, well behind the rest of the UK.

• The review recommended an equivalent ‘living wage’ for students of £8,100 a year, a figure the government applies to care experienced young people, but no other student.

The SNP government claim that around 31,000 students will benefit from an improved package of support – there are over 200,000 students in higher education in Scotland.

Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for education Iain Gray said:

“The student support review wanted to see a shift from loans back to grants for higher education students but the government told them to abide by financial restraints.

“Even with that, the government has still effectively ignored the key recommendation from the group that all students have access to the equivalent of the Real Living Wage at £8,100.

“The increase in grants the government is proposing does not even restore them to what they were in 2012, when the SNP slashed them by 35 per cent.

“The SNP promised to abolish debt, but yet again it is going to pile even more debt onto students. Only Labour will make the richest pay their fair share to ensure a fairer deal for Scotland’s students.”


29 May 2018

SNP education reforms have been branded unnecessary by Labour today.

Reports in the Sunday Herald this morning reveal that John Swinney has dropped certain aspects of his planned reforms following talks with local government.

However Labour believes the reforms remain unnecessary and the real issue that needs to be addressed is proper funding for schools.

Labour group leader on Cosla, Cllr David Ross said: “We have been clear all along that the best interests of the child should be paramount in any proposals to improve education in Scotland and that an isolated focus on the structure of the education system will not achieve our aim of closing the poverty-related attainment gap and allowing every child to fulfil their full potential.

“Local authorities have always been willing to work constructively with the Scottish Government to achieve this aim. The concessions made by Mr Swinney are sufficient at this stage, for local authorities to continue working with Government as it prepares to introduce its Education Bill, but serious concerns remain about the content of that bill.

“Ultimately we don’t believe further legislation on education is necessary and that this in fact this will be a distraction and a waste of time, energy and resources that could be better spent working together to improve education at the front line.”

Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for education Iain Gray said:

“John Swinney’s reforms have been opposed by teachers, parents and unions and now he has had to make significant concessions to get any measure of support from local government.

“The real reform our schools need is more funding, rather than the £1.5billion worth of cuts the SNP government has made to councils since 2011,leaving our schools with fewer teachers and more supersized classes.

“This bill is not needed and the reforms are not necessary.”


23 May 2018

John Swinney has launched an attack on SNP-led Dundee City Council after local authority leaders told headteachers to use the attainment fund to pay for swimming lessons.

The Nationalist council in Dundee has scrapped free swimming lessons for pupils amid ongoing cuts from the SNP Government in Edinburgh.

Local authority chiefs then said attainment fund money – which is only supposed to be spent on closing the gap between the richest and poorest students in schools – could be used to cover the costs of the lessons.

However, at the Education Committee, John Swinney rounded on his council colleagues in Dundee and admitted that was not what the money was for.

Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

“John Swinney has got himself in hot water over these SNP cuts to swimming lessons.

“The reality is, the SNP has now underfunded education to such an extent that councils such as Dundee are having to cut services that expand life chances and promote healthy lives.

“Then headteachers are told by council leaders to use attainment fund money, meant to help the poorest pupils, to cover the cuts – only for John Swinney to later admit that isn’t what the money is for at all.

“This deeply embarrassing episode exposes the price of £1.5billion of SNP cuts to local government.

“Scottish Labour is the only party committed to ending SNP austerity and delivering real change for our children and young people.”


22 May 2018

SNP-led Glasgow City Council has blamed the Scottish Government’s cuts to local authority funding for a 57% hike in childcare fees.

The authority’s executive director of education said the move is needed to raise cash due to “the funding gap in the Council's budget for financial year 2018/19”.

Instead of asking their colleagues at Holyrood to give Glasgow the funds it needs, the SNP council has asked ordinary families to pay more.

The revelation comes after the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) said on Monday that the SNP Government has quadrupled austerity on local government, as result ensuring local government spending per head in Glasgow has fallen by £233 since 2013.

Scottish Labour is calling on the SNP Council to stand up for Glasgow and tell the Scottish Government to fund the city properly, not take more money out of the pockets of families.

Glasgow Labour MSP Johann Lamont said: “It is now beyond doubt that the SNP Government’s funding cuts is the reason why the Council are having to ask thousands of families to pay more each month in childcare fees.

“Instead of telling these families to pay more, SNP councillors should be demanding their colleagues in Holyrood give the city the funding it needs.

“New figures this week showed local government spending per head in Glasgow has been cut by £233 in real terms since 2013.

“It is simply not acceptable that ordinary working people have to pay more in fees because SNP councillors refuse to stand up to their own colleagues. It’s time they stood up for Glasgow and demand the city gets the funds it needs.”



21 May 2018

The SNP Government has quadrupled austerity cuts to local government, an independent report has found.

New figures published by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) show the Nationalists have cut revenue funding to local councils by 7.1 per cent in real terms since 2013-14, almost four times more than the cut to the Scottish budget from the Tories over the same period, at 1.8 per cent.

Labour said the impact of this SNP austerity was felt in classrooms, social care and vital local services across Scotland.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Monica Lennon, said: "These findings prove that the SNP government has not only passed on Tory austerity to Scottish communities but have quadrupled it.

“Working people in both urban and rural Scotland are paying the price of the SNP government’s deliberate strategy to undermine local government and the services it delivers to our communities.

"Local councillors, irrespective of party association, are shown no respect by a government that cuts their resources and increasingly blames them for the consequences.

“A Scottish Labour government would use the powers of the Parliament to end austerity and invest in our vital public services, in the interests of the many, not the few.”

Labour group leader on Cosla, Cllr David Ross, said: "This independent report confirms the significant real terms cut in the local government’s funding from the Scottish Government over the past five years.

"This is the main reason the councils are faced with making cuts to services every year. If anything, the report understates the financial pressures on councils as it doesn’t take into account the rise in demand for services like social care.

“The report also highlights that local councils have taken a much greater cut in funding than the overall Scottish Government budget.

"The Scottish Government claim they are treating local government fairly, but this is yet another report that shows this isn’t the case and that local councils are being expected to take far more than their fair share of cuts.”


12 May 2018

At a campaign event this morning (Saturday), Jeremy Corbyn has said the gap between the richest and poorest pupils in Scotland will not be closed while SNP cuts to councils leave our schools understaffed and our teachers underpaid and overworked.

As Scottish Labour campaigns across the country on cuts to council budgets, they warn that teachers in Scotland are overstretched.

Labour is highlighting:

A £1.5billion cut to council budgets under the SNP since 2011

Scotland having 3,500 fewer teachers since the SNP came to power

The number of primary school pupils being taught in classes with more than 30 pupils has increased by 44 per cent since 2011.

Labour is also warning that teachers are on the verge of strike action after years of real terms pay cuts and increasing workload.

Leader of Scottish Labour Richard Leonard said:

“Under the SNP 3,500 teachers have been cut, class sizes are growing and in the last decade pay has fallen dramatically.

“It is little wonder we face a teacher recruitment crisis and that teachers are saying they've had enough and threatening industrial action.

"Labour supports the teachers’ campaign for better pay and action on workloads.”

Speaking in Scotstoun ahead of a campaign session, Jeremy Corbyn said:

“We won't close the gap between the richest and the poorest pupils with overworked and underpaid teachers.

“Our schools need real change, with more teachers, more support and more resources.

"They do not need more Tory austerity from Westminster and more SNP cuts."

Comment on "school isn't free" reports

20 April 2018

Commenting on reports pupils are missing out on key subjects because of the potential costs involved in studying them, Scottish Labour's education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said:

“These revelations by the Child Poverty Action Group are the shameful reality of the SNP’s £1.5billion cut since 2011 to local councils, who fund our schools.

“That young people are making subject choices based on their ability to pay for materials should put to rest any pretence that education is the SNP’s ‘number one priority’.

“Even given evidence such as this, the SNP continue with their unwanted and flawed reforms.

“Our schools do not need an SNP power grab, they need a government which will get a grip of the situation, properly fund our schools and give teachers the pay rise that they deserve and the resources that they need.

"Anything less will simply ensure that these disgraceful situations remain.

“Labour would use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to stop the cuts, invest in education and ensure our schools work for the many, not the few.”


18 April 2018

Scottish Labour has today accused the SNP of failing school pupils from poorer backgrounds.

Joesph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) research, presented at Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee, highlighted the ‘postcode lottery’ that pupils in deprived areas face.

The research found that, despite similar levels of deprivation, pupils from some local authorities can be twice as likely to secure good grades as those from other areas.

Labour said cuts to councils were at the heart of the matter.

Scottish Labour’s Education Spokesperson Iain Gray said:

“This important research from the JRF highlights the SNP’s failings in education.

“It shows the real effects which their £1.5 Billon cut to council’s finances has had.

“The committee heard of the importance that teaching has on attainment. Our teachers do fantastic work in increasingly difficult circumstances, but the truth is that they have seen 4000 of their colleagues disappear, their class sizes increase and their pay drastically cut.

“The government needs to get a grip of the situation, properly fund out schools and give teachers the pay rise that they deserve. Anything less will simply ensure that the attainment gap remains.

“But instead, they continue with their unwanted and flawed reforms which will do nothing to solve these issues.

“Labour would use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to stop the cuts, invest in education and ensure our schools work for the many, not the few.”


15 April 2018

The SNP is refusing to pay the repair bill for Scotland’s college campuses, Labour analysis reveals today.

Scotland’s colleges need over £360million in repairs over the next five years to bring campuses up to scratch.

However, the government only plans to spend £39.4 million on maintenance in the next year.

Further analysis shows that in the last five years only £131.4 million has been spent on college maintenance, just over a third of what is needed in the next five.

Labour said the figures highlighted the government’s appalling record on colleges and further education.

Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Iain Gray said:

“Colleges and further education continue to get a rotten deal from the SNP government in Edinburgh.

“Any government serious about further education would be ensuring that there is a clear plan to make the campuses wind and watertight. Instead the SNP only plans to spend a fraction of what is needed.

“Refusing to pay this repair bill is just the latest sorry failure from the government on further education – a failure which sees 140,000 fewer college places since they came to power.

“Students deserve to learn in safe, secure and comfortable facilities. The SNP must quickly explain how they are going to give colleges the vital funds they need for these urgent repairs.”


11 April 2018

The SNP is set to miss its childcare staffing target by four years, new analysis from Labour reveals.

The Scottish government has committed to increase the number of free childcare hours to 1,140 by 2020.

In a letter of guidance issued to the Scottish Funding Council, the government outlines plans to train an additional 1,813 childcare practitioners in the forthcoming academic year.

However, Scottish Labour analysis shows that this is just a fifth of the 8,000 extra childcare staff the government says it will need.

By 2020, the year the policy is meant to be in place, not even half of the additional number of staff needed will be trained based on current figures.

In fact it will take until 2024 to train the additional practitioners if current trends are kept.

The SNP’s childcare minister was previously embarrassed at Holyrood’s education committee by admitting she did not know how many staff presently worked in the sector.

Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Scratch beneath the surface of the SNP government’s spin and we are seeing huge problems with the implementation of this childcare policy.

“The government says it needs 8,000 additional staff to deliver this flagship pledge – but will be four years late in training them all if currently levels are not significantly increased.

“This is what happens when childcare policy is written to fit on an election leaflet, rather than to fit around the lives of Scottish families.

“Increasing the availability and flexibility of childcare would have a huge difference, not just in terms of tackling poverty and the cost of living crisis, but also in terms of fuelling economic growth.

“But as it stands there is not enough money, there are not enough staff, and there are not enough buildings to deliver it.

“The SNP minister needs to get across this urgently.”


8 April 2018

The number of local government employees in Scotland has fallen to its lowest level since devolution, Labour analysis has found.

In 1999 there were 210,000 local government employees, excluding police and fire staff – that grew to 230,000 under the Scottish Labour Governments before the SNP came to power in 2007.

The most recent figures, however, show that local government employee numbers have fallen even further to 198,000.

This is a 14 per cent drop in council employees since the SNP came to power.

Scottish Labour said that in any other sector the scale of job losses would have prompted a taskforce from SNP Ministers to protect jobs and help workers find other work, and that the figures make a mockery of claims that local government is getting a fair deal from the SNP.

Scottish Labour’s Communities spokesperson Monica Lennon called for the Scottish Government to undertake an impact assessment of local government cuts.

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities Monica Lennon said:

“The only way we can build a Scotland that works for the many, not the few, is by ensuring vital local services that people rely on are properly resourced.

“Instead, the SNP government has taken Tory austerity and passed it straight on to Scottish councils and the communities they serve.

“Council services are crucial in the fight against poverty and inequality and these job losses hurt the poorest the hardest with lifeline services stripped back year after year because of the cuts.

“That’s why Scottish Labour has set out plans to re-empower local government including new powers to raise income including a tax on vacant land, a tourist tax and a social responsibility levy on alcohol sales.

“The Scottish Government should urgently undertake an impact assessment of local government cuts to understand how they are contributing to growing poverty and inequality and open its mind to the solutions Scottish Labour, councils and trade unions are suggesting.”


23 March 2018

Child poverty is rising in Scotland, according to new figures released .

The statistics show one in four children and one in five adults are now living in poverty.

Scottish Labour said the figures should shame the SNP and Tory governments.

Commenting on the figures, Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokesperson Elaine Smith MSP said:

“No one in 21st century Scotland should have to live in poverty –especially children.

“But these figures show that poverty rates in Scotland are continuing to rise.

“It is simply unacceptable that one in five people and one in four children are forced to live in poverty.

“That is why Labour proposed using the powers of the Scottish Parliament to top-up child benefit and immediately lift 30,000 children out of poverty – but the SNP is joining with the Tories to block it.

“It is why we would end austerity, invest in our public services - and why we have presented an industrial strategy that would create more high-skilled, high-paid jobs.

“With 1,000,0000 people in Scotland living in poverty, we cannot afford to continue to tinker around the edges. The SNP reconsidering its alliance with the Tories to oppose Labour’s plan for a £5-a-week child benefit top-up would be a good place to start.”


13 March 2018

Commenting on new analysis from the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition showing escalating numbers of children needing additional support as specialist teacher numbers slump to a record low, Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education Iain Gray said:

"The plummeting number of ASN teachers under the SNP is a national disgrace.

“A government that has preached for years that education is the top priority has systematically cut off opportunities for vulnerable young people.

“This is the result of years of SNP cuts to local councils and the only way to fix this problem is to provide the funds councils need. That's why Labour would use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to invest in education."

COMMENT ON IPPR SCOTLAND REPORT : ‘How much would it cost to reduce child poverty in Scotland?'

5 March 2018

Commenting on How much would it cost to reduce child poverty in Scotland?
, Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Eradication of Poverty and Inequality, Elaine Smith, said:

"This is an important contribution to the debate around tackling child poverty in Scotland.

“It is all very well for the SNP government to set targets for reducing child poverty by 2030, but this report highlights the scale of that challenge. It shows that bold action is needed right now.

"Labour agrees that we need a whole Scotland approach to tackling poverty.

"That's why our anti poverty strategy isn't just about social security, but also includes fixing our broken housing and energy markets, and ensuring better paid work with guaranteed hours.

"Reducing child poverty should be the overriding mission of every government, and run through the work of every government department.

“It is only a Labour government that will end austerity and poverty proof all policies to deliver the real and radical change that Scotland wants and needs."


28 February 2018

New figures outlining what young people do after they finish secondary school has revealed Scotland’s class divide.

A new statistical publication, ‘Initial Destinations of Senior Phase School Leavers’ reveals that the poorest young people had the greatest percentage of school leavers going on to further education at 37 per cent.

Colleges have been hammered by ten years of SNP government, with 140,000 fewer college place under the Nationalists.

Meanwhile young people from the richest backgrounds had the greatest percentage of school leavers going on to university.

Just 24.9 per cent of the poorest school leavers go on to higher education, compared to 60.6 per cent of those from wealthier families.

The figures are the latest set of school leaver statistics to include zero-hours contract jobs as a positive destination for young people, after the SNP voted against Labour proposals to remove the jobs from the figures.

Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education Iain Gray said:

“The SNP promised a more equitable education system, but instead the stubborn gap between the richest and rest remains.

“In Scotland today,young people from the poorest backgrounds are more likely to go to college and less likely to go straight to university after school – but the SNP has slashed college places, with 140,000 fewer since 2007.

“That cut has closed off opportunities for working class young people – who are told by this government that a zero-hours contract is a ‘positive destination’ for them after school.

“The SNP should remove zero-hours jobs from these stats in the future, even if it makes it more difficult for them to spin the numbers. In the long term further education needs to properly funded.”


26 February 2018

Commenting on the Poverty and Inequality Commission’s report ‘Advice on the Scottish Government's Child Poverty Delivery Plan’, Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Eradication of Poverty and Inequality Elaine Smith said:

"This is an important report from the Commission, which correctly highlights the potential of Scotland's new social security powers to tackle child poverty in Scotland.

“After a decade in power there has been a sense of complacency from the SNP government when it comes to lifting children out of poverty.

"Labour would use the new powers to increase child benefit by £5 a week. That's a move that would lift 30,000 children out of poverty. We would take action to end the brutal impact of the benefit cap on families across Scotland.

"The Commission is also right to highlight the need for a cross-departmental approach – we need to see better quality housing in the right places and the use of the powers of procurement to drive up wages while ending zero hours contracts.

"Instead we have an SNP government that takes Tory austerity and passes it on to Scottish communities.

“Councils have faced £1.5billion of cuts since 2011 - but councils remain the last line of defence against austerity, and the frontline in tackling poverty. “


23 February 2018

The Shadow Chancellor attended a “teach-in” organised by the University and Colleges Union (UCU) today in Glasgow, where workers were protesting against plans by universities to reduce their pension rights.

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said:

“I went to the teach-in at Strathclyde and the picket line at Glasgow to express my solidarity with lecturing staff fighting to protect their pensions.

“I am also today meeting with university principals in Glasgow and I intend to directly raise my concerns about this attack on staff pensions with the principals when we meet.

“I will impress on them the urgent need for employers get back around the table, negotiate a decent settlement and stop threatening the pensions these lecturers now have.

“Higher education is entirely depended on recruiting and retaining staff and attacking and undermining pensions can only impact on that.

“Rest assured the next Labour Government will do everything to protect workers and their pensions while providing the investment that all our public services need to function and recruit and retain the staff that are the very lifeblood of all our public services.”


24 February 2018

Commenting on analysis from TES Scotland which shows education spending set to face cuts, including reductions in teacher numbers and local education budgets, Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education Iain Gray said:

“The SNP government claims that education and closing the attainment gap is its number one priority yet it is introducing a budget that will have a devastating impact on schools across Scotland.

“Local council budget plans show that councils across Scotland are being forced to look at cost cutting measures, some as severe as reducing the number of teachers. We’re already 3,500 teachers down since the SNP came to power and schools are already struggling because of the £1.5 billion cuts in local authority budgets in recent years.

“Further cuts to education services will have a direct impact on the attainment of our children.

“It is time the SNP used the powers of the Parliament to invest in local services and the future of our children.”


15 February 2018

An expert report has revealed a £160million shortfall in the SNP’s flagship childcare policy.

The report from the Accounts Commission reveals that raising the amount of free early learning childcare to 1,140 hours per year by 2021 is set to cost Scottish councils £1billion.

However, the SNP government’s own forecasting expects funding of the policy to be £840million – creating a spending black hole of £160million.

The report says there are ‘significant risks’ that councils will not be able to expand funded places due to issues such as workforce planning.

The government’s own estimates state that 8,000 additional whole time equivalent staff will be needed to deliver the expanded entitlement.

However the report says the Scottish Government ‘has not yet done enough to ensure they will be in place on time’.

The commitment to increase the hours of childcare entitlement by the end of this parliament, from 600 to 1140, was a key part of the SNP manifesto during the 2016 elections.

The report also details issues with the 600-hour entitlement, such as a postcode lottery in local provision.

Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education, Iain Gray, said:

“This independent report blows a £160million black hole in a flagship SNP Government policy.

“Raising the amount of free childcare families are entitled too has been a cornerstone of the SNP’s offer to families – but this report reveals that, not only does the Scottish Government not expect to fully fund it, but that it is also miles behind the levels of staff recruitment needed.

“This is what happens when childcare policy is written to fit on an election leaflet, rather than to fit around the lives of Scottish families.

“Increasing the availability and flexibility of childcare would have a huge difference, not just in terms of tackling poverty and the cost of living crisis but also in terms of fuelling economic growth.

“Instead, the SNP has slashed council budgets by £1.5 billion since 2011, and it is working families who will miss out.

“Labour’s alternative means using the tax powers of the Scottish Parliament to ask the richest to pay their fair share so we can fund local services, not continue to cut them.”