Scotland - 1140 Hours Funded Childcare

Learn about childcare funding in Scotland, where you can access 1140 hours tax free childcare if your child is 3 or 4 years old, with potential support for 2 year olds.

Download Our Funding Guides

Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) 1140 Hours

If your child is 3 or 4 years old, then from August 2021 you will be able to access up to 1140 hours of funded Early Learning and Childcare a year. About a quarter of 2-year-olds in Scotland are also eligible. These hours are free to you, funded by the Scottish Government, and Local Authorities are responsible for ensuring that funded entitlement is available for all eligible children in their area. Bright Horizons liaises closely with each Local Authority to ensure that we offer the funded childcare to best support our families.

Types of Funding Available

There are currently two types of funded childcare schemes that offer help towards childcare for children aged 2, 3 and 4 years. Each of the schemes has different eligibility rules, so it is important that you check which scheme is right for you.

The childcare provider enters into an agreement with the Local Authority to provide funded childcare. Parents of children who are receiving funded childcare do not have access to, or the right to access, the monies paid to the childcare provider for the provision of the funded childcare.

Funding is intended to cover the cost of standard childcare only and a minimum of one meal per funded day. It does not necessarily cover the cost of all meals (including food and preparation): in these circumstances Bright Horizons may add on a sundries charge for snacks/meals as required, which will be detailed in a nursery’s fee sheet.

Parents must apply for funding annually and this may be done online via the council website or by completing and returning a paper application form to the nursery. Proof of address and child’s date of birth will also be required. Applications are submitted based on Local Authority timelines. Funding cannot be backdated for any delayed applications. Funded hours cannot be provided until the nursery has received confirmation from the Local Authority, or from you as the parent, that funding has been granted for your child.

Two-Year-Old Funded Childcare

Some 2-year-olds are entitled to up to 1140 hours of funded childcare a year. The spirit of this scheme is to ensure that those 2-year-olds who otherwise would not be accessing childcare, are enrolled in a setting that will help to improve their development and social skills and will start to prepare them for primary school.

Funded early learning and childcare is available if your child is 2 years old or over and is - or since they turned 2 has been:

  • looked after by a local council
  • the subject of a kinship care order
  • the subject of a guardianship order

Your child can also get funded early learning and childcare if they have turned 2 and you receive one of these benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Job Seeker’s Allowance (income based)
  • Any income related element of Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity or Severe Disablement Allowance
  • State Pension Credit
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

If you receive tax credits or universal credit, then you can earn a certain amount of money and still be eligible. For more information on universal credits, go to

Once you have been accepted for 2-year-old funded childcare, your child will continue to receive the funded childcare until they turn three, even if there is a change in your circumstances and even if you are no longer in receipt of a qualifying benefit.

If you think you are eligible for 2-year-old funded childcare you must apply to your Local Authority: this may be done online or via a form which is available from your Nursery Manager. If you are successful, the Local Authority will provide you with confirmation of eligibility (normally a letter or an email) and you must provide this to the nursery directly in order to access the 2-year-old funded childcare. Please note that we cannot guarantee availability for a 2-year-old funded place: a place can only be offered if and when space becomes available.

Three and Four-Year-Old Funding

All children aged 3 years and over are eligible for up to 1140 hours of funded childcare per year. Depending on which Local Authority your nursery is located in, funding is provided over 50 weeks (22.8 hours per week), or 51 weeks (22.35 hours per week). If you wish to access funded childcare on a term-time basis, please contact the nursery directly to discuss availability as this may not be an option at your nursery.

Children can access a maximum of 10 funded hours per day, usually between 8am and 6pm, although this will vary subject to individual nursery opening hours and can be split between up to two different childcare providers, for example Bright Horizons and a school nursery, or childminder.

Children typically access the ELC funded childcare from the term after they turn 3, however some Local Authorities can provide funding from the day after your child’s 3rd birthday. Your Nursery Manager will be able to advise you. For termly eligibility, the dates are:

  • Children born between 1st March and 31st August – funding will start from the Autumn Term (August)
  • Children born between 1st September and 31st December – funding will start from the Spring Term (January)
  • Children born between 1st January and last day of February – funding will start from the Summer Term (March/April)

If your child is still 4 years old on the date they are due to start primary school, you can defer your child’s entry to primary school by a year.

If your child is deferring entry to school for a year, you can:

  • Automatically get an extra year of early learning and childcare funding if their 5th birthday is in January or February.
  • Apply to your local council and request an extra year of funding if their 5th birthday is after the beginning of the autumn term, in August, and before 1st January - your local council will decide if your child will get an extra year of funding.

How Bright Horizons Offers Funded Childcare

As an all year round childcare provider, we provide care on a sessional basis (full day sessions) to support families. We do not offer childcare on an hourly basis and cannot provide a funded session of only 2.35 or 2.8 hours.

We offer funded childcare under the following model:

  • Parents can claim the maximum allowed number of funded hours (10) in a day.
  • Childcare is available on a sessional basis (morning, afternoon or full day sessions).
  • Funded childcare is applied over 50/51/52 weeks of the year which equates to 22.8/22.35/21.92 hours per week.
  • Unless you confirm at the very start of funding that your child will not attend during unfunded weeks, full fees are charged for these additional weeks.
  • We may charge for food sundries as detailed on the fee sheet, which covers snacks/meals not paid for by funding.
  • You are responsible for paying fees for all childcare services outside of the funded childcare hours, as detailed on the fee sheet.

Funding Breakdown

Download our guides

Discover more about what we can offer your family by downloading our easy to read set of guides. Explore our Bright Horizons nurseries and discover the funding options available - from funded childcare and tax free childcare, to childcare vouchers plus key dates. You can also find out what’s included in our fees and how we support families from the beginning.

Download Our Funding Guides
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