SCMA Statement on Continued Payment of College Childcare Fees to Childminding Settings During COVID-19

SCMA Statement on Continued Payment of College Childcare Fees to Childminding Settings During COVID-19

In response to increasing reports of variation in payment of fees to childminding businesses by colleges around Scotland during the COVID-19 outbreak SCMA has continued to raise this with both the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the Scottish Government.

The SFC is responsible for allocating the Student Support funds to the colleges. Please note that the funds used by colleges to pay childcare fees are taken from an overall Student Support budget.

The main purpose of these funds is to provide financial assistance to students with low income, it covers many different aspects, of which childcare is only one part. In these difficult economic times, there is increased demand on this budget to be able to provide emergency funding directly to students who are experiencing financial hardship.

As you will understand, the colleges’ priority is to support students. However, it is also recognised that, in parallel, many childminders are also experiencing financial hardship at this time, may have had a contractual expectation to receive income for delivering childcare for students’ families which has been interrupted through no fault of their own and, as self-employed businesses, may have no other or reduced income at this time [1].

In addition, it is recognised that students who would normally be receiving childcare at this time may wish to hold a space in a childminding setting, so that they can continue with this childcare support once isolation measures are relaxed.

In line with existing SFC guidance, it has been agreed with the SFC and Scottish Government that -

  • where childcare providers are still open and the student’s child/ren are continuing to attend (they may meet the Government’s criteria for being able to continue to do so), then, yes, colleges should continue to pay these childcare costs;
  • where childcare providers are closed, or not available to the student’s child/ren any more (if they do not meet the Government’s criteria for being able to continue to do so), but the student has provided evidence to the college that the providers are requesting that all or some of the fees are still due as part of their standard COVID-19 fees policy then, yes, colleges should continue to pay these childcare costs.


SCMA has produced a template to support childminders with this process and in documenting the supporting information which is required. This can be used in one of two ways:

  • to respond to college requests for evidence that payment of all or some of the fees are due;
  • we are aware that over the last few weeks some colleges have interpreted SFC guidance as meaning that no payment should be made for childcare at this time. This was not the intention. We have become aware that some colleges who stopped payment are now recommencing payment to childminders after this has been clarified. We would hope others would do likewise. If your payment has been stopped due to this misunderstanding this template could also be used to follow up with your local college, linked to SFC and SCMA clarification of the guidance.


As with our practical advice regarding parental fees at this time, we would encourage, where possible, that the charging of fees is of a reasonable nature.

It has also been agreed that SFC will communicate this clarified position to all colleges in Scotland and SCMA will communicate this to childminders. 


[1 ]       Explanatory Note for Colleges and Childminders

In recent weeks, different waves of financial support have been announced at a UK and Scottish level for both employees and the self-employed affected by Covid-19. While this is welcome, further examination of the detail has highlighted that not all sources of funding are eligible to all and SCMA has been working constructively with the Scottish Government to identify gaps in support and to influence financial support for the self-employed including childminders.  SCMA would wish to clarify some misperceptions which have arisen during this time and the potential applicability of some funding sources to childminders  

  • while nursery providers and other employers are able to access the Job Retention Scheme and furlough staff, this is not applicable to most childminding businesses which are comprised mostly of self-employed sole workers.


  • The U.K. Government has confirmed some potential funding for the self-employed through the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. Through this scheme self-employed people may be able to access a grant of up to 80% of their profits, based on their last 3 years’ tax returns. However, those who are eligible will not receive any payment until June. It should also be noted that not all childminders will be eligible, although some (within their first year of operating) may be able to access some funding through the Scottish Government’s new Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund announced yesterday. Follow the link to find up to date news of financial support for childminders, including Scottish Government’s “Covid-19: Information for childminders about business and financial support” 


  • While some aspects of Universal Credit have been relaxed, at this time, means-testing remains and may also reduce eligibility.