Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): support to childcare sector

Published: 22 Dec 2020
Last updated: 8 Jun 2021 - see all updates

Guidance on the daycare services for children in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): support to childcare sector


This information applies to private and third sector childcare providers and childminders, and sets out the range of business and financial support that has been made available to childcare sector.

Financial support for childcare providers impacted by the decision to restrict the operation of childcare

Settings which can, may wish to consider if it is possible to furlough any members of staff, while continuing to operate their services for children who can access their care at this time. Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme all UK employers with a PAYE scheme can access support to safeguard workers from being made redundant. The UK Government announced that the Scheme is being extended until 30 September 2021.

For periods starting on or after 1 May 2021, you can claim for employees who were employed on 2 March 2021, as long as you have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.

Employers can furlough employees for any amount of time and any work pattern, while still being able to claim the grant for the hours not worked.

Childminding services should note that the UK Government announced that there will be a fifth and final Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant covering May to September 2021. Claims for the fourth SEISS grant have now closed. 

The online claims service for the fifth grant will be available from late July 2021. Find out more about the fifth grant.

Updated Interim Guidance was published on 24 March 2021 setting out the requirements on early learning and childcare settings and local authorities regarding the implementation of Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard for ELC providers from August 2021. This includes interim guidance on the setting of sustainable rates for the delivery of funded early learning and childcare in the context of the impacts of COVID-19.

We recognise that not all private and third sector childcare providers may be able to access support through the existing routes to meet the additional costs and income losses incurred to comply with the latest public health guidance in response to COVID-19. 

That is why we have made temporary financial support available to these providers who remained subject to prolonged restrictions on their services due to coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Applications for Round 3 of the Temporary Restrictions Fund (TRF) covering the four week period from 1 March – 26 March 2021 and targeting support specifically to the school age childcare sector closed on 4 May 2021 and local authorities are continuing to process grant application forms.

Financial Sustainability Health Check

We are currently undertaking a Financial Sustainability Health Check of the childcare sector in Scotland. The Health Check will gather evidence of the impact of COVID-19 on the sustainability of all types of childcare providers, and will assess the impact of financial support which has been made available. 

It will also help to inform any future support for the sector and, as indicated in the updated Interim Guidance on Funding Follows the Child published in March 2021, any updates to the guidance on setting sustainable rates for providers delivering funded Early Learning and Childcare. 

To help inform the Financial Sustainability Health Check the Scottish Government launched surveys for day care of children services and for childminding services. 

The surveys closed at midnight on Thursday, 20 May. We are very grateful to providers who have been able to spare their time in order to complete the survey.

Our analytical team are currently processing the responses and we will share the key findings with the sector during the Summer. 

As part of the Financial Sustainability Health Check exercise we have also asked local authorities to provide updated information on the hourly rates that they pay to their funded provides, the process they have undertaken to set sustainable rates, and any support offered to funded providers during the pandemic. This will help to update a similar exercise that was undertaken in 2019 and, as we did previously, we will make the information collected through this exercise available to the sector (again during the summer).

Charging policies

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published a statement in August 2020 setting out its views on how the law applies to cancelled consumer contracts and refunds during the COVID-19 pandemic. This should be read in conjunction with the advice and open letter the CMA published in July 2020 specifically in relation to the early years sector, setting out its views on the way consumer protection law applies where services cannot be provided due to public health restrictions.

For more information, please see a note reflecting the CMA’s advice regarding existing contract terms that provide for low level payments in respect of costs, or other voluntary arrangements that parents and providers may fairly agree, when the service cannot be provided for example because a setting is closed or a child is self-isolating.

If you have any queries in relation to the information or content of these pages please email:

First published: 22 Dec 2020 Last updated: 8 Jun 2021 -