South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called on the Scottish Government to give more clarity about the potential childcare issues which will arise for borders communities as lockdown measures are eased in England but not in Scotland.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament yesterday (Tuesday), Colin Smyth demanded answers from Education Secretary John Swinney.

He said: “The cabinet secretary says that the [new] guidance applies only in England.

“That will have a massive impact on my constituents in South Scotland, many thousands of whom work in Cumbria and Northumberland. What will the impacts be, particularly for those who have children?

“Is the cabinet secretary considering a review of the current criteria for key workers, so that those who work in the south of Scotland but are now told to get back to work in Cumbria can be added to that list in order to access childcare?

“If the position of the Scottish Government is still that that matter should be left to local authorities, will consideration be given to the provision of additional resources to those authorities in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, to ensure that they can cater for an increase in demand for childcare?”

Speaking after the question session, Colin Smyth added: “John Swinney’s answer, that individuals who are being forced back to work in England should speak to their employers, really isn’t good enough.

“There will be many people in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders who will soon be faced with decisions which could lead to them losing their jobs. If someone with children who lives in Scotland is being told to go back to their jobs in Cumbria or Northumberland, who will look after their kids?

“The rules in Scotland mean children cannot be looked after by someone who isn’t already living in the household.

“John Swinney said that councils currently have surplus childcare capacity but expecting our already hard-pressed local authorities to reassess what constitutes a key worker and extend childcare to those working in England, without extra resources, just isn’t a viable option.”

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