Earlier this year, I blogged about the childcare policy at the heart of the SNP's White Paper for independence.
Back then, I drew attention to a revealing disclaimer buried in a Scottish Government analysis of increased female participation in the workforce.
The paper appeared - at first glance - to suggest that by almost doubling free nursery provision from 600 to 1140 hours a year, there would be a 6% rise in women in work, raising an extra £700m in taxes - very conveniently, the same pricetag put on the policy.
But a footnote revealed these figures weren't based on any economic modelling done by the Scottish Government, they were merely illustrative.
In other words, if there's a 6% rise in women in the workforce, there should be another £700m raised in tax - but there's nothing to prove that the SNP's childcare policy will ever generate that 6% rise in the first place.
Last week, the Institute of Fiscal Studies made a similar point in evidence at Holyrood.
Now, to cap it all, I've received a response to a Freedom of Information request I submitted to the Scottish Government asking for "the full results of any modelling which has been done" on the specific childcare proposals in the White Paper.
It turns out the Scottish Government didn't do ANY modelling of their own flagship policy.
They modelled the impact of more women in the workforce... "rather than directly modelling the impact of improved childcare itself".
To be fair, better childcare might bring lots more women into the workforce, and might raise lots more tax, but to advance a totemic policy on the basis of crossed fingers rather than rigorous analysis - and to give the impression it would be self-funding - seems pretty extraordinary to me.
If that's the standard for White Paper policies, folk may wonder what else is wishful thinking.
|Honey, I forget to model the impact of more childcare for the kids (my underlining in red)|