10 ways we’re giving children the best start in life

The SNP is determined that every child, regardless of their circumstances, should get the best start in life. Our ambition is for Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up.

From taking forward the most significant expansion of childcare and early years education ever seen in Scotland to strengthening children’s rights.

Here are just ten ways we are delivering on this ambition.

1. Every baby in Scotland is entitled to receive a Baby Box

Based on the Finnish model, Scotland’s Baby Box includes essential items for a baby’s first weeks and months and aims to tackle deprivation, improve health and support parents. Since launched, over 115,000 boxes have been delivered – with uptake now at 96 per cent.

2. Free childcare saving families over £4,500 per child per year

Free childcare has already been increased to 16 hours a week for all 3 and 4 year olds – up from 12.5 hours in 2007 – and extended to 2 year olds from low income households. By the end of this parliament, we’ll hit 30 hours a week, more than doubling spending to £990 million and saving families over £4,500 per child per year.

3. 750 new, extend or refurbished nurseries

We are investing in 750 new, extended or refurbished nurseries as part of our drive to almost double the provision of early learning and childcare.

4. Working to raise attainment in schools

We are investing £750 million to tackle the attainment gap between pupils from the least and most wealthy backgrounds.

5. Delivering our Best Start Grants

We delivered our Best Start Grant pregnancy and baby payments, six months ahead of schedule, helping parents on low incomes with £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of later children, to buy the pram or other big essentials they need.

Since then, we have also launched the Best Start nursery age payment and the school age payment  – a £250 payment that will be made to low income families around the time of starting nursery and school – and Best Start Foods, to help people on low incomes who are pregnant or who have young children buy certain types of food, such as milk, formula milk, fruit and vegetables.

More than 84,000 Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods payments have been made, totalling £21.3 million for low income families at key transitional points in their child’s early years.

6. Fighting to end the scourge of child poverty

We will continue to tackle child poverty by implementing our Child Poverty Delivery Plan, backed up by the £50 million Tackling Child Poverty Fund.

In addition, we will introduce a new Scottish Child Payment for low-income families with children under six with the first payments made by Christmas 2020, and for under 16s from 2022. The payment will be set at £10 per week and is expected to lift 30,000 children out of poverty.

7. Empowering the rights of children and young people

We will enshrine children’s rights by incorporating the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law.

8. Proving healthy and free school meals

We continue to provide a healthy school meal for all children in primaries 1 to 3 – around 127,900 pupils – helping improve their health and ability to learn, and saving parents £320 per child per year. And by 2021 we will provide free meals to all 2, 3 and 4 year olds who benefit from increased nursery provision.

9. Mitigating Tory welfare cuts

We will continue to invest over £125 million to mitigate the worst impact of Tory Government welfare cuts and support those on low incomes.

In addition, over 357,350 households in crisis have been helped to buy essentials such as nappies, food and cookers through our Scottish Welfare Fund since it was established in 2013.

10. Helping local authorities support care experience young people

We will provide £33 million for local authorities to help improve the educational outcomes of care experienced young people, funding projects ranging from mentoring and counselling to practical skills like driving lessons.