Childcare costs

The cost of childcare can seem daunting but there are a number of schemes available to parents and carers to help with childcare costs.

Parents and carers must choose the scheme that is best suited to their personal circumstances. It's not possible to access more than one scheme, but help is available.

Check your eligibility and find out which of the schemes below works best for your family at Childcare Choices (opens in a new window).

Free entitlement for two, three and four year olds

All three and four year old children and around 40% of all two year olds are entitled to up to 15 hours a week free early education. This can reduce a families' childcare bill and support parents and carers to work or train to work. From September 2017 many working families will be entitled to an additional 15 hours of free early education for their three or four year old which could reduce the cost of childcare further.

Tax free childcare

Families who are in work and who pay for Ofsted registered childcare may be eligible for this scheme by paying for their childcare through an online Government account. For every 80p paid into this account the Government will pay in an additional 20p.

Tax credits for childcare

The childcare element of Working Tax Credit can help cover up to 70% of the cost of childcare.

Universal Credit

Parents and carers who qualify for universal credit may be able to claim up to 85% of their childcare costs each month.

Childcare vouchers

Some employers offer childcare vouchers or 'salary sacrifice' schemes. They allow parents and carers to pay their childcare costs directly from their salary before tax and national insurance deductions are made. This saves the employee money by reducing the amount of tax paid. This scheme will be closed to new entrants in April 2018.

Support whilst studying

There is support available for parents and carers whilst they study. They include Care to Learn payments, Discretionary Learner Support and childcare grants.

Other help

If you have financial concerns, our welfare benefits information and advice team offers a range of services, including free benefits checks.

Trained staff can advise you about welfare benefits and tax credits and put you in touch with a wide range of organisations which can help with issues like housing, tax and loans.

Our benefits helpline is open Monday to Friday from 11am to 4.30pm. Tel: 0845 120 2985 or 01629 531535 or email:

Information on other websites