Labour put childcare first in historic budget vote

For the first time in the 24-year history of South Lanarkshire Council, the administration’s Budget proposals have been defeated.

girls drawing

Labour’s budget amendments prioritised childcare.

Labour have secured climb-downs and concessions from the SNP, making them the first administration in South Lanarkshire’s history to lose a budget vote.

At today’s Council Meeting (27th February 2019) an opposition budget amendment, tabled by Labour, to invest in childcare and protect frontline jobs and services passed with cross-party support.

The SNP have embarrassed and isolated themselves. They are in office but not in power.

Joe Fagan

The amendment, agreed by three opposition groups, secured cross-party support for an alternative budget proposition including ‘Free at 3’, which ensures children can access nursery provision as soon as they turn three rather than the next enrolment date.

Councillor Joe Fagan

Labour Group leader, Joe Fagan.

South Lanarkshire Labour Leader, Councillor Joe Fagan said:

Faced with a tight budget and tough choices, Labour put childcare first to give real help now to South Lanarkshire families. We built a consensus on the Council for a better, fairer Budget – a Budget to stop unacceptable cuts to education, to prevent opening hours being slashed at leisure facilities and to increase the support the Council provides to families.

The School Clothing Grant in South Lanarkshire has been increased to match Labour-led North Lanarkshire and so-called birthday discrimination in the early years will end from August. This Opposition victory for Free at 3 will prevent three-year-olds falling through the cracks and missing out on funded early years provision.

Labour are a minority party and this amendment only succeeded because a consensus was reached across party lines.

While other parties have worked to find common ground, the SNP have been left in an embarrassing and isolated position on the Council, voting against introducing Free at 3 this year – a policy they claim to support.

The SNP have embarrassed and isolated themselves. They are in office but not in power. Opposition parties, ignored for months, will be ignored no more. 

Of course, this Budget process would be easier for all parties and the Council as a whole if SNP Government -imposed cuts to South Lanarkshire were ended. With a fairer funding settlement, Labour would do more to mitigate the impact of cuts, invest even more in tackling poverty and boost frontline services that have been overstretched for far too long.” 

The SNP administration was also forced to back down on its plans to cut Early Years Teacher numbers for nurseries. 

Currently, the smallest nurseries have access to an Early Years Teacher four days per week but larger nurseries have access to a teacher five days per week.

The original proposal from the SNP would have reduced access to Early Years Teachers to four days per week in all nurseries, by replacing some teachers with Early Year Workers, but this was removed by the Labour amendment.

Other concessions gained by Labour include:

  • An increase to school clothing grants and bringing forward the payment date to bring them into line with Labour-led North Lanarkshire.
  • £100,000 of targeted spending to tackle fly-tipping and littering.
  • No reduction in opening hours at Stewartfield Community Centre or the James Hamilton Heritage Park Water Sports Centre.
  • The creation of a cross-party working group to take forward evidence-based policies on tackling poverty.


Posted by HLSLabour

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