Childcare spending to double to £840 million a year

Huge expansion of free early learning and childcare.

Spending on childcare will double to £840 million a year by 2021-22 in a bid to transform the life chances of children in Scotland.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has reaffirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to invest in a near doubling of entitlement to 1140 hours – around 30 hours a week - of free early learning and childcare from August 2020.

The move will ensure high-quality learning and care is available for all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds and is expected to save parents around £350 per child, per month.

The First Minister said:

“Our expansion of nursery education is truly transformational.

“Currently we deliver around 16 hours of early education and childcare a week – that’s already an expansion. But some parents still struggle to find and fund the childcare they need to allow them to work. We are going to change that.

“By 2020, we will deliver 30 hours a week for every three and four year old and eligible two year olds. It will give children the best start in life. It will free parents to find work. And each month it will save families around £350 per child on the costs of childcare.

“Over the past few months, we have undertaken detailed work to assess the investment needed. Right now, we invest around £420 million a year. By the end of this Parliament, that will double to £840 million a year.

“That is the kind of real, practical help that young parents need.”


Free early learning and childcare is available to all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds.

The Scottish Government will work closely with local government this autumn to agree a multi-year funding package to deliver the expansion.

As set out in the Programme for Government, published in September, the Government committed to “take the next steps towards the near doubling of funded early learning and childcare, including setting out minimum levels of multi-year funding to deliver the expansion and provide certainty to our councils and providers”.

As set out in the Blueprint for 2020 2017-18 Action Plan, published in 23rd March 2017, the total funded early learning and childcare entitlement of 1140 hours is estimated to provide an annual saving of £4,500 per child per year (equivalent to around £350 per month). The entitlement of 1140 hours per year is equivalent to around 30 hours for 38 weeks of the year, matching the time children spend each week in primary school.


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