HM Government

Can I get help with my childcare costs?

Government help with childcare costs for parents.

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

Government help with childcare costs for parents.

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 for 38 weeks
    • A total of 570 hours per year, that you can use flexibly with one or more childcare provider
    • Some providers will allow you  to ‘stretch’ the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week

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

    Am I eligible?

    To be able to take up 15 hours of free early education for your two-year-old you must meet the eligibility criteria. Please visit GOV.UK for further information.

    Where can I use it?

    It's available at participating:

    • Full day care (e.g nurseries)
    • Schools
    • Childminders
    • Sessional providers (e.g. playgroups)
    • Sure Start Children's Centres

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

    What isn't covered?

    The 15 hours of free childcare/early education for two-year-olds is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider. However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 15 hours place, and must be offered alternative options.

  • 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 for 38 weeks
    • A total of 570 hours per year, that you can use flexibly with one or more childcare provider
    • Some providers will allow you  to ‘stretch’ the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week

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

    Am I eligible?

    15 hours of free childcare is available for all families in England. 

    Where can I use it?

    It's available at participating:

    • Full day care (e.g nurseries)
    • Schools
    • Childminders
    • Sessional providers (e.g. playgroups)
    • Sure Start Children's Centres
    • After school clubs

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

    What isn't covered?

    The 15 hours free childcare/early education offer is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider. However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 15 hours place, and must be offered alternative options.

  • 30 hours free childcare

    Age 3 and 4

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

    You need to earn at least £125 a week.

    If you’re earning less than £125 a week but are under 25, or you’re an apprentice, you may still be eligible.

    You may still be eligible if you will be starting paid work in the next 31 days. 

    You each need to earn at least £125 a week.

    If you’re earning less than £125 a week but are under 25, or you’re an apprentice, you may still be eligible.

    You may still be eligible if you and your partner will both be in paid work in the next 31 days.

    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
    • 30 hours of free childcare or early education for 38 weeks
    • A total of 1,140 hours per year, that you can use flexibly with one or more
      childcare provider
    • Some providers will allow you  to ‘stretch’ the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week
    Childcare
    Calculator - external link
    Get an estimate of how much help you can get with 30 hours free childcare and other offers
    Childcare
    Calculator - external link
    Get an estimate of how much help you can get with 30 hours free childcare and other offers

    Am I eligible?

    You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £125 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.

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

    When can my child start?

    Your child can start in their childcare place the term after they turn 3 years old and have received a valid 30 hours code, whichever is later. Term start dates are 1st September, 1stJanuary and 1st April.

    To keep your 30 hours free childcare place you need to check your details are up to date every 3 months.

    Where can I use it?

    It's available at participating:

    • Full day care (e.g nurseries)
    • Schools
    • Childminders
    • Sessional providers (e.g. playgroups)
    • Sure Start Children's Centres
    • After school clubs

    What isn't covered? 

    The 30 hours free childcare offer is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider. However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 30 hours place, and must be offered alternative options.

  • Tax-Free Childcare

    Under 12

    Get

    up to

    £2000

    per child

    For families with children under 12 (or under 17 if disabled).

    You need to earn at least £125 a week.

    If you’re earning less than £125 a week but are under 25, or you’re an apprentice, you may still be eligible. 

    You may still be eligible if you will be starting paid work in the next 31 days. 

    You each need to earn at least £125 a week. 

    If you’re earning less than £125 a week but are under 25, or you’re an apprentice, you may still be eligible. 

    You may still be eligible if you and your partner will both be in paid work in the next 31 days.

    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 per year 
    Childcare
    Calculator - external link
    Get an estimate of how much help you can get with Tax-Free Childcare and other offers.
    Childcare
    Calculator - external link
    Get an estimate of how much help you can get with Tax-Free Childcare and other offers.

    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 per year - 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.

    Am I eligible?

    You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £125 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. 

    You can't get Tax-Free Childcare if either you, or your partner, each individually expect to earn £100,000 or more.

    How can I benefit?

    You can use Tax-Free Childcare all year round 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 can use Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as:

    You can't use it with:

  • 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 (£125 a week at the National Minimum Wage).

    If you’re earning less than £125 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 (£125 a week at the National Minimum Wage).

    If you’re earning less than £125 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

    Am I eligible? 

    You must be entitled to Working Tax Credit, and you, and any partner, must each be working at least 16 hours a week.

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

    How to claim tax credits

    How can I benefit?

    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 tax credits for childcare 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

    What's happening to 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 tax credits at the same time as:

  • 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

    Am I eligible?

    You, and any partner, must be working, or you’re due to start work, and are claiming Universal Credit.

    Whether you can claim will depend on where you live and your personal circumstances.

    How can I benefit?

    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.

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

    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.

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

    You can't claim Universal Credit at the same time as:

  • 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

    Am I eligible?

    Your employer must offer childcare vouchers or arrange your childcare.

    How can I benefit?

    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.

    What's happening to Childcare Vouchers? 

    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 4 October 2018. You can keep getting vouchers if you’ve joined a scheme and the relevant changes are made to your wage before this date, as long as:

    • you stay with the same employer and they continue to run the scheme
    • you do not take an unpaid career break of longer than a year

    The tax and National Insurance exemption for workplace nurseries will also continue.

    You can't use childcare vouchers at the same time as:

     

  • 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 (or under 17 if they have special needs).