Your early learning and childcare options

Help with paying for childcare

Universal Credit

If you are eligible for Universal Credit, you may be able to claim up to 85% of your childcare costs

  • Universal Credit helpline: 0800 3285644

Tax Credits

You may be eligible for help paying for childcare if you receive Tax Credits.

Tax-Free Childcare

The Tax-Free Childcare scheme can help with the cost of childcare. This replaces Childcare Vouchers which are closed to new applicants.

If you joined one of the schemes on or before 4 October 2018, you might be able to still get vouchers or directly contracted childcare.

Visit the Scottish Government website and Childcare Choices for more information on help with paying for childcare.


If you are a student, support may be available. Contact your university or college for information.

Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods

You can get Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods:

  • if your child is the right age for a payment
  • whether you're in work or not, as long as you're on certain payments or benefits
  • as long as you're the parent of a child, or the main person looking after the child.

Best Start Grant

Best Start Grant is 3 cash payments. Each payment can only be paid once per child.

The 3 payments are:

  • the Pregnancy and Baby Payment
    A one-off payment of £707.25 for a first child or £353.65 for a second or later child. It can be paid during pregnancy or until the baby is 6 months old in most cases. It could help you pay for maternity clothes, a cot or a pram
  • the Early Learning Payment
    A one-off payment of £294.70 if your child is between 2 and 3-and-a-half years old. It could help you pay for day trips, books or toys for home learning
  • the School Age Payment
    A one-off payment of £294.70 if your child is around school starting age. It could help you pay for a new school bag, school trips or after school activities.

Best Start Foods

Best Start Foods is a Scottish benefit for families on low incomes. It is paid to pregnant women or their partners and families with children aged up to 3 years.

It is paid as credit onto a pre-loaded payment card which you can use to buy certain foods.

There are 2 rates of payment, either £4.95 a week or £9.90 a week. The amount you get depends on:

  • whether you or your partner is pregnant
  • how old your child is.

You get a payment for each child aged under 3.

Apply to Social Security Scotland for Best Start Foods.

Best Start Foods won't affect any of your other benefits. If you are eligible, you may also be eligible for A Good Time to Be 2.

Scottish Child Payment

Scottish Child Payment helps towards the costs of supporting your family. It's a weekly payment of £25 that you can get for every child under 16 you look after. You'll get the payment every 4 weeks if your application is successful.

Social Security Scotland Child Disability Payment

Child Disability Payment provides families with support for extra costs that a disabled child might have. This replaces the UK Government’s Disability Living Allowance for children.