By Democrat reporter

Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh, has raised concerns regarding the changes to local authority childcare provision.

The Scottish Government has announced that local authorities will no longer be legally obliged to deliver 1,140 hours of funded childcare from this August.

This means it is down to individual authorities to decide whether childcare is provided but they will have no obligation to do so.

Jackie Baillie said:  “It is right that local authorities are being supported by the Scottish Government to focus on delivering services amid the current pandemic.

“Both councils within my constituency – West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute – have my full support and I thank the staff for all their efforts.

“But this announcement today will only add to the levels of stress that parents across my constituency are already experiencing due to nursery and school closures.

“This is a time of huge uncertainty and regardless of whether the crisis has been contained by August or not, parents will continue to face very real worries about their childcare options.

“Many were banking on the additional hours to help them manage work and other responsibilities.

“When things do begin to return to normal, we will have to see a huge effort from the Scottish Government to make sure funded childcare will be deliverable as close to the original time frame as possible.”

Meanwhile, Jackie Baillie has welcomed the announcement from the Scottish Government that extra funding would be provided to domestic abuse organisations to deal with the increased demand on their service due to the current covid-19 lockdown.

Grants from the Scottish Government’s £350 million Communities Fund have been made to Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland to ensure that access to these key support services is maintained and victims still have access to methods of reporting crimes during the crisis, including using online video platforms, text messaging and phone calls.

Jackie Baillie said:  “I welcome the fact that money has been made available to ensure that key organisations such as Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland can continue to provide vital support for domestic abuse victims both in my constituency and across Scotland.

“It is a heart-breaking but unsurprising fact that the number of calls to the Dumbarton Women’s Aid has risen drastically because of the lockdown. Victims are being forced to remain in close proximity to their abusers, putting themselves and their dependants at risk.

“I hope that this money will find its way to local organisations to meet the increased demands on their services and that this increased Government support for them continues after the current crisis.”

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