Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Kindergarten Logic Part 3

I've blogged recently on the childcare proposals at the heart of the SNP's independence White Paper.

Earlier this year, I drew attention to a disclaimer buried in a Scottish Government companion paper analysing increased female participation in the workforce.

At first glance, the paper seems to suggest that by raising free nursery provision from 600 to 1140 hours a year, there would be a 6% rise in women in work, raising £700m more in taxes - the same cost as the policy.

In fact, the figures are just illustrative. The "analysis" was of a theoretical 6% increase in the workforce. There was no proof that the SNP's specific childcare plans would produce that 6% rise in the first place.

Then, last week, I published a response to a freedom of information request showing the government hadn't done any modelling on the impact of the childcare policy.

They'd worked out the impact of a bigger workforce "rather than directly modelling the impact of improved childcare itself".
Now, it turns out the childcare policy is still "in development".

I'd asked the government under FoI for the full results of that analysis on female workforce participation.

The partial results didn't say how many years it would take for the £700m to start rolling in. One parliament? Ten parliaments? There was no indication.

The government has refused to release the full analysis. No surprise there. But what is interesting are the grounds for refusal - that the policy remains unfinished.

Key quote:  

"Disclosing this advice and evidence while the childcare policy is still under discussion and development may undermine or constrain the Government's ability to develop that policy effectively."

So not only is the cornerstone policy of the White Paper unsupported by specific modelling evidence, it's still a work in progress. Presumably that means it's still liable to revision, possibly major revision. Not that you'd ever know from the White Paper.

Just how many policies will be "in development"  - and the degree of that development - when people vote in September is intriguing but unclear.

A "transformational change" in childcare: details TBC

1 comment:

  1. If the SNP's reason for keeping it secret is taken seriously it means they are saying the public should, under no circumstances, know about and thus have any input in the formation of policies. Nice to know they care.

    Reminiscent of Bismarck's advice regarding the production of sausages and diplomatic deals except that there is a good case that a little secrecy makes diplomacy easier. Not so for childcare policy and sausages.