Two out of three children in council nurseries get just three hours of care per day


Fair Funding for our Kids has found that two out of three children attending council nurseries get care for just three hours and ten minutes per day. 

Response to our recent FOIs found that 68% of council places were offered for half days only. This is an improvement on Fair Funding’s first FOI report in 2015, when the figure stood at 95%. However, at this rate of change, it will take until 2026 to end the practice of half-day places.

Other key findings in the report were: 

  • 70% of all free childcare places for 3-5 year olds in Scotland were offered in council run nurseries.
  • 68% of all council nursery places for 3-5 year olds were half days only
  • 48% of all nursery places in Scotland were half days only
  • 16% of all nursery places are for full days in term time only
  • Less than 3% of all nursery places are for full days all year round
  • Local authorities in Scotland were underfunding places in private nurseries by up to £461 per child
  • 21 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities were offering an hourly rate below the national average cost of a nursery place

A spokesperson for the campaign said,

“Early years care is so important, but working parents continue to miss out. Very few people have bosses who are prepared to let them work for less than three hours a day, and many don’t have grandparents who can fill gaps in childcare. We need much faster progress in eliminating half-day places except where parents specifically request them”. 


9 out of 10 nurseries not covering normal working hours, Fair Funding reveals



Fair Funding for our Kids has renewed calls for nursery reform after our research revealed nine out of ten council nurseries don’t provide the cover working parents need.

Just one week after a damning Audit Scotland childcare report, our Freedom of Information requests show just one in ten council nurseries are open between 8am-6pm or longer. Nineteen councils had no nurseries which were open between 8am-6pm: the hours that campaigners say most parents need, if they’re to hold down a job.

Although twenty-three councils claimed they offered at least some children “full-day” places, in fact only 3% of all children attending council nurseries have nursery places starting at 8am or earlier. And just 2% have places ending at 5.15pm or later.

Carolyn Lochhead, parent volunteer at Fair Funding for our Kids said,

“Our research shows that the system is just not set up for working parents – the very people the Scottish Government say they want to help. If you don’t have grandparents nearby who can help with drop-off and pick-up, then it’s almost impossible to make use of a council nursery place”.

In Glasgow, less than two-fifths of the 110 council nurseries are open between 8am-6pm. What’s more, despite the council’s claim that 43 of its nurseries do operate these opening hours, it appears few children are benefitting from them: just 6% of children start at 8am or earlier, and only 4% finish at 5.15pm or later

Lanarkshire parent Moira Gibb commented,

“I’ve had to change my working hours to do thirty hours over five days, so I can collect my little girl at 4pm. And even that wouldn’t work if my dad didn’t do a 40 mile round trip every day to take her to nursery”.

The campaigners say that even a “full-day” place is impossible for many parents to access: one council defines “full-day” as 9am-3.30pm, while another says its “full day” ends at 4.17pm. And there are other disparities in provision across the country.

In East Renfrewshire, all of the 17 local authority nurseries are open between 8am-6pm or longer, yet in neighbouring Renfrewshire, less than half of its 34 nurseries offer these hours.

This compares poorly to East Dunbartonshire, where over a third of children are able to start at or before 8am and over ten per cent can finish after 5pm.

Parents of children aged 3 or 4 are entitled to 600 hours of free childcare per year. And the Scottish Government says its early learning and childcare policy should “support parents to work, train or study, especially those who need help with finding sustainable employment.”

Fair Funding for our Kids is calling for:

  • An end to councils capping the number of places in partnership nurseries they will fund
  • A national agreement on funding children who live in one area but need to attend nursery in another
  • Ring-fenced childcare funding
  • A minimum hourly rate to be paid to providers by local authorities




Fair Funding for our Kids Research shows nine out of ten parents who want to change their working situation say the main barrier is lack of appropriate childcare.

And more than two-fifths of parents are dissatisfied with their childcare arrangements. The findings are revealed in a new report based on a survey of over 400 parents.

Parents of children aged 3 or 4 are entitled to 600 hours of free childcare per year. And the Scottish Government says its early learning and childcare policy should “support parents to work, train or study, especially those who need help with finding sustainable employment.”

But half of parents who were unhappy with their childcare arrangements said it was because the hours available were too short or did not suit their working arrangements.

This is largely because most councils only offer free childcare hours in slots of 3 hours 10 minutes during term time only, with no option for parents to buy extra hours for the rest of the day: an unusable system for many working families. Research by the Fair Funding campaign in 2016 found that half of all nursery places in Scotland were for half days only.


The report, Beyond the Half Day Place, also reveals fifteen per cent of parents are receiving no free hours at all for their 3 or 4 year old. This follows a 2015 Care Inspectorate report which found a third of 3-4 year olds were not receiving their funded place.

The Scottish Government plans to increase the entitlement to 1140 hours by 2020, and has published a blueprint setting out how it will achieve this by providing more flexible childcare. But campaigners point out today’s nursery age children will be at school by 2020, and are demanding immediate action.



Most Councils Not Following Govt Childcare Guidance

research, cross-boundary

Today we reveal that most councils are not following Scottish Government guidance on cross-boundary funding of free childcare places.

Our new report based on FOIs shows just four Scottish councils have reciprocal agreements with every other local authority to fund childcare for children from other areas. Yet Scottish Government guidance says that all councils should have such agreements.

This affects parents who live in one local authority area but need their children to go to nursery in another: usually because they cannot get home from work in time to pick their children up before nursery closes.

We’re calling on the Scottish Government and COSLA to create a national agreement on cross-boundary funding.

The full findings of today’s report are:

  • Three non-island councils have no reciprocal agreements with other councils to fund nursery places
  • Three councils have reciprocal agreements with just one other council
  • Twenty-two councils had reciprocal agreements with at least one other council
  • Four councils had reciprocal agreements with every other council
  • Almost two-thirds of councils who responded pay for funded places in arrears: making it harder for poorer parents to access their place, since they must pay upfront

Two Thirds of Nursery Places Half Days


Two-thirds of nursery places in Scotland are half-day only, Fair Funding for our Kids has revealed.

And nine out of ten council places are only offered for half days, making them almost unusable for most working parents. These and other findings are in our new report, based on Freedom of Information requests submitted to every local authority in Scotland. You can also check out every FOI response we received, to see what your local authority told us.


The childcare system in Scotland isn’t working


Thousands of families in Scotland are unable to access their legal entitlement to 600 hours free early learning and childcare for 3 to 5 year olds.

We are acting to find out where this is happening and why.

Help us change things for the better. Join our campaign for fair funding!

Who we are

The Fair Funding campaign group.

What’s the problem?

A straightforward guide to the key issues.

How does this affect me?

If you are a parent or carer of a toddler, read on.

Your stories

Families share stories of their unfair childcare funding experiences.

What can I do?

Steps you can take to improve the situation.

Press coverage

Media coverage of the campaign and childcare issues.

The Glasgow Campaign

Information about our flagship campaign in Glasgow.

Fair Funding Poll

Easy, one-click poll: is your child getting their nursery funding?


NEWS – 11th May 2016 Campaign Toolkit One in five children is missing out on their free nursery place, because of inflexible hours and a system that just isn’t set up for working parents.  But still the Government claims to have delivered 600 hours of free childcare for every three and four year old. With the…