You might be able to get help from the Government to pay for childcare, such as childminders and nurseries. To qualify, you must use ‘approved childcare’. Below are the different forms of support and how to know if you are eligible to claim them.
You could be eligible to get extra tax credits to help pay for childcare whilst you are working. You can get up to £122.50 extra per week for one child, or £210 for 2 or more children. It won’t cover all childcare costs, so you must use the tax credits calculator on the Government website to work out which forms of childcare you can get it for.
You will usually qualify for extra tax credits if:
- You qualify for working tax credit.
- You are responsible for the child.
- You work at least 16 hours a week.
- The childcare you pay for is registered or approved.
- Your child is under 16/17 if they are disabled.
Couples usually have to work at least 16 hours per week. Only one of you has to work these hours if the other is in prison, hospital or gets certain benefits because of an illness/disability or if they are a carer.
Approved childcare can include care provided at home, in school or at another place by a playscheme, childminder, club or nursery. For schools, the childcare must be provided outside of hours and on the school’s premises, unless your child is under the age of 5. You can’t claim if your child is being looked after by your partner, but if it is provided by a relative who is a registered childminder you can.
You can get an application form for extra tax credits by contacting the tax credits helpline.
Your employer may be able to assist you in paying for childcare by using childcare vouchers or another scheme. You must pay income tax and National Insurance contributions on some forms of support. You don’t have to pay it when using childcare vouchers, childcare that your employer arranges with a provider or workplace nurseries. You could get up to £55 a week in childcare vouchers, depending on the amount you earn and when you joined the scheme. Receiving childcare vouchers may affect your tax credits.
You have to pay tax and NI contributions on cash that your employer gives you to pay for childcare, childcare provider’s fees that are paid by your employer and school fees that your employer pays.
Support Whilst Studying
Discretionary Learner Support
You may be able to get discretionary learner support to pay for childcare if you are over the age of 20 and on a further education course. To find out if you are eligible, contact your college as each college has its own scheme.
You may be able to get a childcare grant if you are in full time higher education and have children under 15, or under 17 if they have special needs. It will help pay for childcare costs whilst studying.
Care to Learn
Care to learn payments are paid directly to your childcare provider to help pay for childcare costs. You may be able to get care to learn if you are under 20 and caring for your own child.
Free Education and Childcare for 2 to 4 year olds
All 3-4 year olds can get 570 hours of free early education/childcare per year. Generally this is taken as 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year. Some 2 year olds are also eligible.
3-4 year olds
After your child turns three, you can start claiming free childcare. The date that you can claim depends when their birthday is.
1 January to 31 March- the beginning of term on or after 1 April
1 April to 31 August- the beginning of term on or after 1 September
1 September to 31 December- the beginning of term on or after 1 January
Free education/childcare can include all types of nurseries and nursery classes, playgroups and pre-school, childminders and Sure Start children’s centres.
2 year olds
Some 2 year olds will be eligible to get free early education and childcare. You must be getting one of the following:
- Income based Job Seekers Allowance
- Income support
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support through part 6 of the immigration and asylum act
- Tax credits with an annual income of £16,190 before tax
- The guaranteed element of State Pension credit
- The working tax credit 4 week run on.
- Universal credit
Children will also be entitled to a place if:
- They are looked after by a local council
- They have a current statement of special education needs, or an education health and care plan.
- They get disability living allowance.
- They have left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order.
Contact your local council to see if your child is eligible.