By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today urged the government to introduce a new Nursery Premium and fresh support for children from poorer backgrounds, as new figures showed that the number of children flagged as having developmental concerns rose sharply last year.
The figures also show that children who received a 27-30 month review in deprived areas are 2.3 times more likely to suffer development concerns than those from the least deprived areas.
The figures from Public Health Scotland show:
• 12% of children who received a 13-15 month review had a concern noted about at least one area of their development. This was a 2 percentage point increase compared to 2020/21.
• 18% of children who received a 27-30 month review had a concern noted about at least one area of their development. This was a 3 percentage point increase compared to 2020/21.
• 15% of children who received a 4-5 year review had a concern noted about at least one area of their development. This was a 2 percentage point increase compared to 2020/21.
Mr Cole-Hamilton, left, said: “At the hands of this SNP-Green administration, inequalities loom large and child development is suffering. Children in deprived areas are still worse off, with development concerns having increased sharply since the pandemic.
“We simply can’t let this continue. There needs to be a concentrated effort to ensure all those eligible for free childcare are taking it up, so the poorest children in our society can thrive. We must also ensure that for all those starting school who have had development concern noted, there is extra support in place should they need it.
“It’s time for the Scottish Government to listen to Scottish Liberal Democrat calls and offer fresh opportunities for those children and their families most heavily impacted by the pandemic. We have also proposed extending the successful pupil premium to nursery level so that children from poorer areas get the support they need.”