A new ‘data pipeline’ has been set up to allow information sharing between government agencies and local councils in Scotland on early learning and childcare eligibility.

The Improvement Service launched Datapipeline.scot in response to a request by councils for information on families in their area with a child who is eligible for funded early learning and care (ELC).

All 3-and 4-year-olds in Scotland are eligible for 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare (ELC), along with some 2-year-olds who meet eligibility criteria targeting children facing the most disadvantage. In most cases, this is because their parents receive a qualifying benefit.

Research into barriers to uptake of ELC found that many households with an eligible 2-year-old child were not aware that they met the criteria. Local authorities have therefore requested data about eligible families in their area so they can contact them directly to let them know about their entitlement and what’s on offer to them.

Datapipeline.scot has been developed by Improvement Service, working with Tata Consultancy Services, to allow Scottish councils to securely access that data.

The Scottish Government receives and processes data from Social Security Scotland, DWP and HMRC about households who are entitled to funded early learning and childcare. Once processed, a data file is uploaded to datapipeline.scot

Described as a “digital sorting office”, the records in the file are sorted into 32 mailboxes based on their postcodes (one for each local authority area). Records are checked for errors and exceptions. The local authority is then notified that there is a file available for them to download.

Each local authority is provided with data relating to its own geographic area only and on the basis that the data will not be used for any other purpose.

The Scottish Government anticipates that this will provide access to data on around 90 per cent of households with an eligible 2-year-old.

Seventeen councils are currently signed up to datapipeline.scot, which is free to use for all Scottish local authorities to access the ELC data.