Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Parent views on post-Yes childcare plan

A "childcare revolution" has been put at the centre of the Scottish government's plans for independence. But what do mothers themselves think? BBC Scotland's Marianne Taylor spoke to parents whose children attend St Mirin's Out of School Club in Glasgow.

Fiona Weir, mother-of-one

The full-time teaching technician and mother to eight-year-old Keira said:

"My daughter loves after-school club - it's helped make her more outgoing.

"She comes during school holidays too, and enjoys the trips and all the other activities.

"I used to suffer from depression, and working is really important to my health and wellbeing.

"I'm a single parent and it's really hard to juggle it all, especially financially."

The 35-year-old explained: "I get £90 a week in working tax credits, £72 of which goes to childcare. I have my wages too, but once all the bills are paid there is very little left.

"The White Paper plan for childcare is interesting - I'd support any more help with childcare. But more tax credits would be more helpful.

"Childcare is one of the things that I'll be considering when I make up my mind which way to vote in the referendum - but it won't be the only thing."

Karleen McLean, mother-of-three

The part-time catering assistant said: "Childcare is a really important issue for me - it's like a full-time job juggling it all.

"Each day I use a breakfast club, two nurseries and this after-school club.

"It's all very expensive, but I get tax credits to help with the costs - without those I wouldn't be able to work.

The 28-year-old is mother to Liam, nine, Kayla, four, and Sophie, two.

She said: "It's important for my own wellbeing that I work and the kids get a lot out of it too - they've really come on educationally and socially, and it's good that they mix with children of different ages and backgrounds.

"I've not yet decided how to vote in the referendum, but childcare will play a big part in my decision.

"As far as the plan laid out in the White Paper goes, I think it's a good idea to offer more free childcare.

"The under-fives is the most important time to get it free as it's so expensive - I don't think free after-school care is as necessary, as long as you can still get tax credits to help with the cost."

Michelle Essler, mother-of-two

The full-time accountant said: "Childcare is really expensive for us - the nursery fees for Michael are £153 per week alone. That's half my salary, then we have after-school club for Madison on top.

"I felt a pressure to go back to work after Michael was born, especially since I am the main breadwinner - but I also think it's important to work for the sake of my sanity."

Michelle is 32 and mother to Madison, nine and Michael aged two.

She said: "Tax credits help a little, but as both my partner and I work full-time, we don't get much.

"The childcare savings for families in the White Paper would make a huge difference to us.

"We're living with parents at the moment and saving up to buy a house - the £4,600-a-year the Scottish government says we would save on childcare would almost pay the deposit.

"This will have an influence on how I vote, and I think it will make a lot of families think harder about how they vote.

"I think the government is right to focus the extra money on care for the under-fives. After-school care is cheaper, and if you've saved on nursery fees when your child is younger you could afford it more easily."

Vicky McGowan, mother-of-two

The part-time bookkeeper said: "I wouldn't be able to work if it wasn't for this club. It's good value for money and the kids love it.

"It's also really good in terms of improving the kids' social skills, and it helped Abigail settle in to school."

Vicky is 31 and mother to Liam, 10 and Abigail, aged five.

She said: "Some mums with kids under five don't want to work but I think it's really important - both Liam and Abigail went to a private nursery when they were younger.

"The offer of more childcare for the under-fives in the White Paper is really attractive, but I'd like to see that extended to after-school care too.

"Childcare is a real juggle for people. The cost is important but so is flexibility.

"I haven't made up my mind which way to vote in the referendum, but childcare won't be a deciding factor for me."

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