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Help with childcare costs

If you are working, preparing to work or in education, you might get help with childcare costs.

Free Early Education

All 3 and 4-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours of free early education per week for 38 weeks of the year.

Children from 2 years old are entitled to the same amount of free early education if you are getting one of the following benefits:

Income Support

income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

income-related Employment and Support Allowance

the guarantee element of Pension Credit

Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit (and have an annual household income not over £16,190)

Working Tax Credit run on (a continuation of WTC for 4-weeks when you first stop qualifying for it)

Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Universal Credit


Children from 2 years old are also eligible if they:

are looked after by the local authority

have a current statement of special educational needs (SEN)

have an education, health and care plan (EHCP)

receive Disability Living Allowance

have left care through special guardianship or an adoption or child arrangements order

Contact your local authority (link opens in a new window) for further details about Free Early Education or see the GOV.UK website free childcare information (link opens in a new window).

Help with childcare costs when working

If you are working, you may be able to get help with childcare costs through the following sources:

The Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit

Employer Supported Childcare scheme (Childcare Vouchers)

If your employer offers you childcare vouchers, you may want to know if you would be better off having the vouchers or claiming help with childcare costs through the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit. To check this, you can use the childcare cost calculator on the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website (link opens in a new window)

From Autumn 2015, the Employer Supported Childcare scheme will be replaced by a new Tax-Free Childcare scheme.

Help with childcare costs when looking for work

If you are looking for work, you may be able to get help with some expenses, for example, to enable you to attend interviews, through a discretionary Jobcentre Plus fund called the Flexible Support Fund.

Ask your local JobCentre Plus office (link opens in a new window) for more information about this and any other schemes they may run to help you into work.

Help with childcare costs when studying

If you are in education, you may be able to get help with childcare costs see our Benefits and students guide for more details

Also see the GOV.UK website for help with childcare costs when studying (link opens in a new window) to find out about Discretionary Learner Support, Learn to Care payments and Childcare Grants.