HUMZA Yousaf would introduce a major rollout of free childcare should he win the race to succeed Nicola Sturgeon.

The SNP leadership candidate told the Daily Record that universal early learning for one and two-year-olds would be in his first Scottish Budget.

He added that he would announce a £25 million a year childcare fund to help parents returning to work.

“Young families are being hit hard by the cost of living crisis”, he said.

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“As a parent myself, I know how hard it is for many parents going back to work while juggling the commitments of childcare and employment.”

All three and four-year-olds are currently entitled to 1140 hours a year under the current policy but free childcare for two-year-olds is means tested.

Yousaf also promised to roll out free early learning for all one and two-year-olds for up to 22 hours a week.

The Record reports that the candidate’s campaign believes the cost of phasing in the policy for 2-year-olds first would be around £100m for 2024/25.

He continued: “For those on low income in particular the upfront costs of childcare, transport and higher household bills are serious financial barriers stopping many parents getting back to work – particularly in those first few months after returning to work when households budgets are stretched.

The National: Humza Yousaf would introduce universal childcare if made first ministerHumza Yousaf would introduce universal childcare if made first minister (Image: PA)

“As first minister, my Helping Hand Fund would help working families by easing that burden, offering £500 loans towards the first stages of childcare to help all parents in Scotland returning from leave back into employment.

“A win-win for Scotland – cutting household costs, helping families get back into work and boosting our economy.

“We know that expanding childcare has saved families thousands of pounds every year. So, if elected first minister I’ll go even further.

“In my first budget as Scotland’s first minister, I will accelerate the roll-out of free early years education for one and two-year-olds in Scotland. Offering high quality childcare for 22 hours a week, all year round – for all children.

“I want Scotland to be the best country in the world to grow up in. My announcement today goes some of the way to ensuring we give your youngest Scots the very best start in life.”

The Scottish Health Secretary also said there should not be a Holyrood election after the new first minister is appointed.

He said: “There would be a vote in the Holyrood chamber for whoever the candidate is for the next first minister.

“The opposition will put their candidate forward, we’ll put our candidate forward and we’ll see who ends up getting selected as first minister.

“So I don’t think there’s a need for another Holyrood election beyond the current timetable.”