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Get to grips with childcare costs and benefits

Did you know that you can get help with the cost of your child going to a registered nursery, playgroup or childminder?

All childcare providers must be registered with the Care Inspectorate.

Read more about the quality of ELC settings here.

Early Learning and Childcare

Funded by the Scottish Government through your local authority, high quality early learning and childcare helps give your little one the best possible start. It will help with your child’s language and social skills, encouraging them to learn through play with other children. Read more about the benefits of ELC here.

From August 2021, all 3 and 4 year olds, and around a quarter of 2 year olds, will be able to access 1140 hours of Early Learning and Childcare, funded by the Scottish Government. That works out at about 30 hours a week if you use it during school term-time, or around 22 hours a week if you use it year round. Check out our page on funding and entitlement to ELC for more info.

What other ways can you get help with childcare costs?

Is there any other help available to me with childcare costs?

You could be able to get help through the following:

For information on eligibility and how to apply please visit

You can also use the GOV.UK childcare calculator to see if you are eligible for any other help with childcare costs.

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If you’re a student

If you are studying at Higher Education level then you may be able to apply to your college or university's Childcare Fund. This Fund is provided by the Scottish Government, to help towards the cost of registered or formal childcare costs. This includes: childminders, after school clubs, day care, sitter services and providers of pre-school care and education. Each college or university is responsible for deciding which students should receive payments and how much each payment should be. As part of this, you may be able to receive a non-income assessed Lone Parent Childcare Grant. In addition to this, if you are widowed, separated, divorced or single with at least one dependent child you may be eligible for the Lone Parent Grant from SAAS, which you are able to apply for in your initial funding application.

You may also be eligible for support from your College or university's discretionary funds.  More information on all support available to students studying at HNC/HND level or above can be found on the Student Awards Agency Scotland website.

If you are studying at Further Education level at college then you may be able to get some additional funding to help pay towards childcare.

Each college has a Childcare Fund to help their students pay for registered childcare. Priority is given to certain groups including lone parents, mature students, and part-time students although other full time students can apply too.  The support available differs from college to college. To find out what is available you should speak to your college funding team.

You may also be able to get help towards childcare costs from your college's discretionary fund.

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If you work

If you’re a working parent, you can take advantage of the Tax-Free Childcare scheme.

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If you already get Universal Credit

You may be able to claim 85% of your childcare costs if you currently get Universal Credit.

However, you can't get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as claiming Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers.

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Want to see if there are other things you could save money on?

The Scottish Government and Citizens Advice Network in Scotland have teamed up to launch the Money Talk Team – a free, easy and friendly service that you can call to see what you might be entitled to or if you can save money. Give them a call on 0800 085 7145.