HM Government

Can I get help with my childcare costs?

The government is introducing new ways to help parents with childcare costs. 

Whether you have toddlers or teens, you could get support.

The government is introducing new ways to help parents with childcare costs. 

Whether you have toddlers or teens, you could get support.

Help paying for childcare

Look through all the help on offer,
or tell us a bit about you, so we can find the offers that might be best.

Do you live with a partner?

We have picked out below the help that may be available to you, based on your current answers. Look for these signs:

  • 15 hours free childcare

    Age 2

    For families with 2-year-old children.

    You need to be receiving support.

    You need to be receiving support.

    Your income is above the threshold for this scheme.

    Your household income is above the threshold for this scheme.

    • For families in England, receiving some forms of support
    • With 2-year-old children
    • 15 hours of free childcare or early education a week

    Find out more about similar schemes in ScotlandWales / Cymru, and Northern Ireland

    If eligible, you're entitled to 570 hours of free childcare a year, to use flexibly.

    You will be eligible if you are getting a form of support, including:

    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
    • Tax credits and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax

    You’ll also be eligible if any of the following apply to your child:

    • they’re looked after by a local council
    • they have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
    • they get Disability Living Allowance
    • they’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order

    Available at participating:

    • Nurseries and nursery classes
    • Playgroups and pre-school
    • Childminders
    • Sure Start Children’s Centres

    From 1 January, 1 April or 1 September following your child’s 2nd birthday.

    Full details and how to get 15 hours in England

  • 15 hours free childcare

    Age 3 and 4

    For families with 3 and 4-year-old children.

    • For all families in England
    • With 3 and 4-year-old children
    • 15 hours of free childcare or early education a week

    Find out more about similar schemes in Scotland, Wales / Cymru, and Northern Ireland.

    You're entitled to 570 hours of free childcare a year, to use flexibly.

    Available at participating:

    • Nurseries and nursery classes
    • Playgroups and pre-school
    • Childminders
    • Sure Start Children's Centres

    From 1 January, 1 April or 1 September following your child's 3rd birthday.

    Full details and how to get 15 hours in England

    Find out more about similar schemes in Scotland,  Wales Cymru, and Northern Ireland.

  • 30 hours free childcare

    Age 3 and 4

    For families with 3 and 4-year-old children.

    You need to earn at least £120 a week.

    If you’re earning less than £120 a week but are under 25, or you’re an apprentice, you may still be eligible.

    You each need to earn at least £120 a week.

    If you’re earning less than £120 a week but are under 25, or you’re an apprentice, you may still be eligible.

    Your income is above the threshold for this scheme.

    Your household income is above the threshold for this scheme.

    • For working families in England
    • With 3 and 4-year-old children
    • An extra 15 hours a week of free childcare - so 30 in all
    • Parents of children who will be 3 on 31st August can apply now

    If eligible, you're entitled to an extra 570 hours of free childcare a year to use flexibly, so 1140 hours in total.

    You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £120 a week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible. 

    You can't get 30 hours free childcare if you, or your partner, expect to earn £100,000 or more.

    Available at participating:

    • Nurseries and nursery classes
    • Playgroups and pre-school
    • Childminders
    • Sure Start Children's Centres

    Get an estimate

    of how much help you could get with childcare costs

    Childcare
    calculator - external link
  • Tax-Free Childcare

    Under 12

    For families with children under 12, or under 17 if disabled.

    You need to earn at least £120 a week.

    If you’re earning less than £120 a week but are under 25, or you’re an apprentice, you may still be eligible. 

    You each need to earn at least £120 a week. 

    If you’re earning less than £120 a week but are under 25, or you’re an apprentice, you may still be eligible. 

    Your income is above the threshold for this scheme.

    Your household income is above the threshold for this scheme.

    • For working families, including the self-employed, in the UK
    • With children under 12 (or under 17 if disabled)
    • For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2, up to £2,000 per child - that's up to £500 every three months
    • Parents of children who will be under 4 on 31st August, and parents of disabled children, can apply now

    If you're a working parent with children under 12 (or under 17 for disabled children), you can open an online account to pay for registered childcare. The government will top-up the money you pay into the account. For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2. You can receive up to £2,000 per child - that's up to £500 every three months. If you have a disabled child, you can receive up to £4,000 per child - that's up to £1,000 every three months.

    You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £120 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible. 

    If either you, or your partner, expect to earn £100,000 or more, you can’t get Tax-Free Childcare. You can’t use Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as childcare vouchers, Universal Credit or tax credits. You can use it with the 15 hours and 30 hours schemes.

    You can use it to help pay:

    • Registered childminders, nurseries and nannies
    • Registered after-school clubs and playschemes
    • Registered schools
    • Home careworkers working for a registered home care agency

    Get an estimate

    of how much help you could get with childcare costs

    Childcare
    calculator - external link
  • Tax credits for childcare

    Under 16 17

    For families with children under 16 (or under 17 if disabled).

    You need to be working more than 16 hours a week (£120 a week at the National Minimum Wage).

    If you’re earning less than £120 a week but are under 25, or you’re an apprentice, you may still be eligible. 

    Each of you need to be working more than 16 hours a week (£120 a week at the National Minimum Wage).

    If you’re earning less than £120 a week but are under 25, or you’re an apprentice, you may still be eligible. 

    Your income is above the threshold for this scheme.

    Your household income is above the threshold for this scheme.

    • For working families, in the UK
    • With children under 16 (or under 17 if disabled)
    • 70% of childcare costs, up to a cap

    If you are entitled to Working Tax Credit, and you and any partner are working at least 16 hours a week each, you can claim back up to 70% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 16 (or under 17 for disabled children). Depending on your income, you could get up to £122.50 a week for one child or £210 for two or more.

    You can use it to help pay:

    • Registered childminders, nurseries and nannies
    • Registered after-school clubs and playschemes
    • Registered schools
    • Home careworkers working for a registered home care agency

    You may also be eligible for Child Tax Credit, even if you’re not working.

    How to claim tax credits

    Universal Credit is being phased in over the next few years. It will replace a number of existing benefits, including tax credits. If you are already receiving tax credits, you don't need to do anything now. 

    You can’t claim Universal Credit, tax credits, or Tax-Free Childcare at the same time.

    Get an estimate

    of how much help you could get with childcare costs

    Childcare
    calculator - external link
  • Universal Credit for childcare

    Under 16

    For families with children under 16.

    You need to be working. If you're about to start work, you could still be eligible.

    Both of you need to be working. If you're about to start work, you could still be eligible.

    Your income is above the threshold for this scheme.

    Your household income is above the threshold for this scheme.

    • For working families claiming Universal Credit, in England, Scotland and Wales
    • With children under 16
    • 85% of eligible childcare costs, up to a cap

    If you, and any partner, are working, or you’re due to start work, and you’re claiming Universal Credit, you can claim back up to 85% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 16. You could get up to £646 a month for one child, or £1,108 for two or more.

    You can use it to help pay:

    • Registered childminders, nurseries, and nannies
    • Registered after-school clubs and playschemes
    • Registered schools
    • Home careworkers working for a registered home care agency

    Universal Credit is being phased in over the next few years. It will replace a number of existing benefits, including tax credits. Whether you can claim will depend on where you live and your personal circumstances.

    Use an independent benefits calculator to find out what you could get

    If you are already receiving tax credits then you don't need to do anything now.

    You can't claim Universal Credit, tax credits or Tax-Free Childcare at the same time.

  • Childcare vouchers

    Under 16 17

    For families with children under 16 (or under 17 if disabled).

    You need to be working.

    One of you needs to be working.

    You need to be working.

    One of you needs to be working.

    • For working families, in the UK
    • With children under 16 (or under 17 if disabled)
    • Up to £933 a year in tax and National Insurance savings

    If your employer offers childcare vouchers or arranges your childcare, you can get up to £933 a year in tax and National Insurance savings.

    The amount you can get in childcare vouchers depends on how much you earn and when you joined the scheme. You pay for your childcare before tax and National Insurance deductions are made.

    You can’t use childcare vouchers at the same time as Tax-Free Childcare. Over time, Tax-Free Childcare will replace childcare vouchers and childcare arranged directly by your employer.

    Childcare vouchers will remain open to new joiners until April 2018. Parents already using childcare vouchers can continue to do so after this date, as long as the employer continues to offer them. The tax and National Insurance exemption for workplace nurseries will also continue.

    Get an estimate

    of how much help you could get with childcare costs

    Childcare
    calculator - external link
  • Support while you study

    You need to be studying.

    One of you needs to be studying.

    You need to be studying.

    One of you needs to be studying.

    • Weekly payments from Care to Learn if you’re at school or sixth-form college
    • Help through your college if you’re in further education
    • A weekly grant if you’re in full-time higher education

    You could get weekly payments through Care to Learn if you're under 20 at the start of a publicly-funded course, such as a school or sixth form.

    You can apply for Discretionary Learner Support to pay for childcare if you're 20 or over and in further education, for example, if you're studying for an NVQ, BTEC or PGCE.

    You can apply for a Childcare Grant if you're in full-time higher education to pay for childcare costs for children:

    • under 15
    • under 17 if they have special needs