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Help with childcare costs

  • 25/06/2018

This article is over a year old

Can I get help with my childcare costs?

Children drawing

Whether you have a new born baby or a teenager at school, the costs of childcare can be huge.

Between 2008 and 2016, the cost of childcare has shot up by 48% – leaving many families struggling to cover the costs.

However, a range of help is available from Government and employer schemes.

Childcare Element of Working Tax Credits

The Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit is for people who work but are on a low income to help with the cost of registered or approved childcare. It does not matter whether you are working for someone else or are self-employed. 

In order to get childcare element, you must meet the qualifying rules for Working Tax Credit (WTC) and make a claim.

Some people who live in a Universal Credit area will not be able to claim Working Tax Credit. There is a childcare element within Universal Credit. Use our Benefits Calculator to find out your entitlements.

Tax-Free Childcare (TFC)

You can get up to £500 every three months for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare – or £1,000 if your child has a disability.

If you get TFC, the Government will pay £2 for every £8 you pay your childcare provider via an online account.

You can get TFC at the same time as 30 hours free childcare if you’re eligible for both. However you can’t get TFC if you claim Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers. If you are receiving Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, or Universal Credit, you will lose these benefits if you claim TFC.

Find out if you are eligible for Tax-Free Childcare

15 and 30 hours free childcare for three and four year olds

All three to four year olds in England can get free early education or childcare. Some two year olds are also eligible.

All children of this age will get 570 free hours per year. However, you may be able to get up to 1,140 hours per year if you’re eligible.

You can get 30 hours free childcare at the same time as claiming Universal Credit, tax credits, childcare vouchers or Tax-Free Childcare.

Find out if you are eligible for extra hours

Childcare Vouchers

Your employer may be able to help you with approved childcare costs using childcare vouchers or other schemes.

Childcare vouchers can take up to £55 a week of your wages as childcare vouchers, which you do not pay tax or National Insurance on.

From 5 October 2018, childcare voucher schemes will close to new applicants. You may be able to get Tax-Free Childcare instead.

Find out more about Childcare Vouchers.

Free childcare for two year olds

Your two year old can get free early education and childcare if you live in England and are eligible.

There are different schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Find out if you are eligible for free childcare

Universal Credit

You may be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs if you’re eligible for Universal Credit.

You, and your partner if you live with them, will usually need to be working or have a job offer.

The most you can get back each month is £646 for one child or £1,108 for two or more children.

Learn more about Universal Credit additional elements

Help while you study

If you are in school or sixth form, you could get weekly payments through Care to Learn if you’re under 20 at the start of a publicly-funded course.

For people in further education, you can apply for Discretionary Learner Support to pay for childcare if you’re 20 or over and in further education.

If you are in full-time education you can apply for a Childcare Grant to pay for childcare costs for children under 15 - or under 17 if they have special needs.

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