Find out your childcare options and how to get help towards childcare for working parents. The total amount you receive depends on your household income, weekly childcare costs, and family circumstances.
CHILDCARE FEES: This page explains how to get help paying for childcare costs in the United Kingdom.
There is a list of family benefits available to help working parents cover the cost of approved childcare. Find out whether your employer can help you with childcare vouchers or a staff nursery.
The Care to Learn scheme could also provide you with weekly payments. To qualify you must be under 20 and starting a publicly-funded course.
Whereas, full-time higher education students with children might qualify for the Childcare Grant instead.
As a rule, working parents can get help towards childcare costs if it is 'approved childcare'. Approved childcare examples include a:
There is a simple way to search online for an approved childcare provider. You can also check their credentials before you use their services:
Most working parents can get help paying for early years childcare if the school provides it. The child must be under 5 to qualify for early years childcare.
Getting help paying for childcare for children of 5 years or over may be available from:
Living in England or Scotland
You cannot claim for child care if it's provided by your partner. But, what happens if a relative, such as a grandparent, provides child care for your children?
In this case, you can still get help paying for childcare providing:
Living in Northern Ireland or Wales
Getting help paying for childcare provided by a relative is possible if all these terms apply:
Working parents often use foster carers for child care. But in England, they must be a registered childcare provider to get help with childcare costs. Foster carer rules for claiming childcare costs differ in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
You can get free childcare and education for some 2-year-olds and all 3 to 4-year-olds in England. As a rule, you get 570 hours of free early education or childcare each year. Most parents opt for 15 hours a week which lasts for 38 weeks of the year.
Note: Free education and child care also exists in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The exact date that you can start claiming childcare costs depends on the birthdate of your child.
The eligibility for free early education and childcare has conditions. You must use child care conducted by an approved childcare provider. This free service stops when your child starts their reception class in a state school.
Free early education and childcare eligibility may apply for your 2-year-old. But, to qualify you must be receiving one of these benefits:
Children also qualify for free early education and childcare if any of these apply:
Childcare tax relief applies for Working Tax Credit even for those on leave or ready to start a new job. Other childcare tax credits available include:
Many employers help with the cost of child care using childcare vouchers. They may also have other schemes available such as a staff nursery. But, you are liable for Income Tax and National Insurance on certain kinds of child care support.
Tax and National Insurance is not payable on childcare vouchers or workplace nurseries. You also do not pay it on child care that your employer arranges with an approved provider.
The government defines this service childcare scheme as 'directly contracted childcare'.
The most you can get from childcare vouchers is £55 a week. The amount depends on your earnings and when you joined the childcare voucher scheme.
But, they may affect the amount of tax credits you get. So, you should work out whether you are better off taking childcare vouchers.
There are some childcare schemes which you must pay tax and National Insurance on. These include:
The Care to Learn program could provide you with extra weekly payments. You must be under 20 years old when the publicly-funded course begins. As a rule these courses run at some schools or sixth forms.
You may be eligible to get Discretionary Learner Support. DLS pays for childcare if you are 20 or over and studying in further education. Some examples of FE courses include NVQ, BTEC or PGCE.
The Childcare Grant may also help with childcare costs. You can claim for the Childcare Grant if you are in full-time higher education. It could pay towards child care fees for children under 15 (under 17 for those with special needs).
Help with Childcare Costs for Working Parents in the United Kingdom