Scottish Household Survey: childcare topic report

This report presents data on the use of childcare by households with a child aged between two and five years old (not yet at school) using data from the 2019 Scottish Household Survey.

Use of Funded ELC

All three and four year olds, and around a quarter of two year olds, are entitled to Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) that is funded by the Scottish Government. Some children also receive ELC that is funded at the local authority's discretion. The funded ELC reported here is a combination of both types. Please refer to the introduction for more information on funded entitlement. Information on the use of funded ELC during the school holidays is not included in this report as the vast majority of households do not use funded ELC during school holidays. 

Number of hours/days over which funded ELC is used

This section will look at the number of hours of funded ELC used per week by those who use it, and over how many days parents/carers use these funded hours.

Table 5 shows that 72 per cent of parents/carers of three year olds and 76 per cent of those of four year olds and over use at least one hour of funded childcare per week. Around half of each of these age groups (51 per cent and 52 per cent respectively) use between 11 and 20 hours per week. Use of 21 to 30 hours per week has increased in both groups from two per cent in 2018 to 12 per cent in 2019 for three year olds and from six per cent in 2018 to 14 per cent in 2019 for four year olds and above. This increase is likely due to the phasing of the increase in funded hours through the ELC expansion. Conversely, 81 per cent of households with a two year old stated that they use no funded childcare or that their child is not entitled to funded childcare. This is much lower than for three and four year olds as only approximately 25 per cent of two year olds are entitled to funded childcare.

Table 5: Number of funded ELC hours used per week during school term-time by age [16]
Percentages, 2018 and 2019 data
  2018 2019
Hours 2 3 4+ 2 3 4+
1-10 2 3 2 2 3 3
11-20 6 51 52 5 51 52
21-30 2 2 6 3 12 14
30+ - 0 - - 0 2
Don't know 1 6 9 2 6 4
I don't know if my child is eligible 6 4 1 3 2 1
My child uses funded childcare but am not sure how many hours 2 11 8 4 5 5
None/my child is not entitled to any funded childcare 80 21 23 81 21 20
Refused - 1 1 - - -
Base 150 230 200 160 200 230

Of those that use funded ELC, 63 per cent of parents/carers stated that they spread their hours of funded care over five days during school term-time, remaining around the same level as the 64 per cent reported in 2018 (Table 6).

Table 6: Number of days over which funded hours are used per week by those using funded ELC during school term-time
Percentages, 2018 and 2019 data
Days 2018 2019
Don't know 4 3
1 - 3
2 7 9
3 14 13
4 11 10
5 64 63
Base 280 310

Reasons for not using funded ELC

This section presents data showing the reasons families do not use funded ELC. Households who reported not using funded ELC in earlier questions were asked for the reasons why they did not use it. Households who had previously reported that they were not entitled to funded ELC (Table 5) were excluded from this question. 

Table 7 shows that the largest group (36 per cent) stated that they were not eligible for funded ELC, with a further 13 per cent responding that they did not know if their child was eligible. This indicates that there may have been some confusion amongst respondents when initially asked whether they were entitled to funded childcare as those not eligible should have reported this when asked about the number of hours of funded ELC used, or that there may be confusion amongst respondents regarding their child's eligibility. As a result of these non-eligible households being included in the base for this question, the percentages reported here are likely to be underestimates which should be taken into account when interpreting these figures.

Eight per cent of respondents answered that their child did not get a funded ELC place until later in the year, and seven per cent said that they would rather look after their child themselves. Four per cent of households said that they were not aware of the availability of funded childcare, with a further two per cent stating that they did not know how to apply or found applying too difficult.

Table 7: Reasons for not using funded ELC
Percentages, 2018 and 2019 data
Reasons 2018 2019
Not eligible 43 36
I don't know if my child is eligible 15 13
He/she does not get a place until later in the year 5 8
Rather look after him/her myself 8 7
Rarely need to be away from him/her 0 3
He/she is too young 8 3
He/she wouldn't like to be separated from myself (or my partner) - 1
He/she is better cared for in a home environment 4 4
I was not aware of the availability of funded childcare 3 4
Don't know how to apply/find applying too difficult 2 2
Travel time too long - -
The travel costs would be too high to get to a suitable provider 1 -
Can't afford it, even with funded hours, because always hidden costs - 1
Lack of flexibility/choice in opening hours 1 1
Lack of provision in school holidays 1 -
Lack of flexibility/choice in types of childcare available 1 1
Doesn't meet the additional support needs of my child - 0
None I could trust to provide a high quality service 1 0
Other 7 10
No reason/I don't know 14 16
Base 230 210

Columns may not add to 100 per cent as multiple responses were allowed.



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