HUMZA Yousaf put the focus on families in Rutherglen and Hamilton West ahead of a campaign visit to the by-election constituency.

The First Minister is set to join the party’s candidate and local councillor Katy Loudon in Rutherglen on Friday on a visit to a local nursery.

Yousaf said SNP policies, such as the pledge to expand paid-for childcare provision to two-year-olds across Scotland, showed the party would always stand up for families in Scotland in the face of “regressive” Westminster policies.

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The 1140 hours of paid-for childcare for all three and four-year-olds is set to be rolled out to two-year-olds during the next parliamentary term and was announced as part of the Programme for Government (PfG) earlier this month.

Yousaf added that policies such as the Baby Box, free school meals for children in primary one and primary five – also set to be extended to primary six and seven during the parliamentary term – and the Scottish Child Payment were evidence of the party’s family-first policies.

He pointed to findings that the policies have lifted 90,000 children out of poverty.

The PfG also included a commitment to expand access to childcare from nine months to the end of primary school in specific communities.

The National: Humza Yousaf and Katy LoudonThe FM contrasted this with Labour leader Keir Starmer’s refusal to commit to scrapping the two-child benefit cap and rape clause, adding that the “cruel” Tory policy has pushed up to 20,000 children in Scotland into poverty.

Meanwhile, Loudon committed to introducing a Private Members' Bill to scrap the two-child cap and rape clause – which affects 1620 children in Rutherglen and Hamilton West – within her first 100 days as MP if she wins the by-election.

Speaking ahead of the visit, SNP leader Yousaf said: “It's clear that families across Scotland are being hammered by a Westminster cost of living crisis – whereas the SNP’s expansion of paid-for childcare has saved families thousands of pounds a year and our game-changing Scottish Child Payment has helped lift an estimated 90,000 children in Scotland out of poverty.

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“In contrast to the SNP’s strong track record, regressive UK Government policies like the two-child cap and abhorrent rape clause are pushing thousands of families in Scotland further into poverty.

“Labour is choosing to support these cruel Tory policies while many families struggle to get by during a cost of living crisis of Westminster’s making.

“It’s clear that our policies to support young families are making a real difference. On October 5, the SNP should be the first choice for families to ensure we can push Westminster on policies which help to give every child the best start in life.”

Loudon added: “As a former primary school teacher, I’ve seen first-hand the difference high-quality education can make in a child’s early years.

The National: Humza Yousaf and SNP candidate Katy Loudon on the campaign trail“Every child deserves the best start in life and parents should get the support they need to feed and clothe their families.

“But in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, voters can clearly see a tale of two parties. The SNP want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up while the Labour Party are happy to sit by and watch local families suffer.

"My commitment to move to scrap the two-child cap and rape clause within my first 100 days as MP will go some of the way to building a fairer Scotland for our youngest Scots.”

We told how a total of 14 candidates are standing in the by-election, with the ballot set for October 5.