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

The 3 Best Start Grant payments are:

  • Pregnancy and Baby Payment
    You can apply from 24 weeks pregnant up to the day your baby is 6 months old. If you get the payment for your 1st child, you'll be paid £600. You'll get £300 for your 2nd or 3rd child, or any child after these.
  • Early Learning Payment
    You can apply when your child is between 2 years and 3 years 6 months old. You'll get £250 for each child you can get the payment for.
  • School Age Payment
    You'll get £250 for each child you can get the payment for.

Best Start Foods

You can apply when you're pregnant, or any time up to your child turning 3 years old. This goes up to 4 years old for a child who is over 2 years old when you apply.

If you are getting Healthy Start Vouchers for a child you apply for, you'll be moved from Healthy Start Vouchers to Best Start Foods.

The payments of Best Start Foods are:

  • £17 every 4 weeks during pregnancy
  • £34 every 4 weeks from your child being born up until they're a 1 year old
  • £17 every 4 weeks between the ages of 1 and 3

If you are eligible for Best Start Grants you may be eligible for A Good Time to Be 2.

Scottish Child Payment

The new Scottish Child Payment is £40 every four weeks for eligible children under six. You may be eligible if you are on certain benefits or tax credits.

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.