The Scottish Government’s flagship free childcare pledge has been shelved due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Councils were working to a deadline of August to double the provision of funded childcare hours to 1,140 a year for all three and four-year-olds, and eligible two-year-olds.

Now, the Scottish Government plans to suspend the legal duty on local authorities to deliver the expansion by August, with children and young people minister Maree Todd saying the coronavirus pandemic makes it “impossible”.

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An Audit Scotland report at the start of the month found “steady progress” but warned its success or failure is “critically dependent on achieving much in a short time”, with extensive recruitment and building works urgently required.