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Help with childcare costs

With family budgets being increasingly squeezed by the high cost of living read our guide to the help available for parents struggling with childcare costs.

In Work

If you are a working parent you may be able to get help with childcare costs through the following;

The Employer Supported Childcare scheme is being phased out and the latest you will be able to make a new claim is April 2018. It is being replaced by a new Tax-free Childcare scheme which is expected to start in early 2017. Under the new Tax-free Childcare scheme, the Government will contribute £2 for every £8 you pay into a Childcare account. It will put in a maximum of £500 every three months for each child – or £1000 if your child is disabled. 

Free early learning for families in England

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. 

From 2017, the Government will extend this to 30 hours free childcare for parents living in England, who work more than 16 hours a week and earn less than £100,000 a year. The government is to pilot the 30-hour scheme in a few areas in September 2016: Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, York, Newham and Hertfordshire.

See our Your Situation section for more information on help with bringing up a child.


If you are studying, depending on the course, they may be able to apply for a Childcare Grant or Care to Learn payments. It is also worth checking with your college to see if you qualify for the Discretionary Learner Support scheme which could assist with your childcare costs.

To find childcare and family services in your area see the Family and Childcare Trust website and you can also contact your local authority to obtain details.

Use our free Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits income which could help with the cost of childcare.