Childcare Choices | 30 Hours Free Childcare, Tax-Free Childcare and More | Help with Costs | GOV.UK
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
    • A total of 1,140 hours per year, that you can use flexibly with one or more childcare provider

    Get an estimate

    of how much help you could get with childcare costs

    Childcare
    calculator - external link

    Get an estimate

    of how much help you could get with childcare costs

    Childcare
    calculator - external link

    If you are eligible, 30 hours is available for 38 weeks of the year (just like the existing 15 hours scheme). Some providers will allow you to ‘stretch’ your 30 hours entitlement over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week.

    You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) the equivalent of working 16 hours a week at your national minimum wage (£120 at the National Living Wage, less if you are on the National Minimum 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.

    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, 1st January and 1st April.

    Apply now to start a place next term. You may get asked for further information, so we strongly advise you to apply before 30 November.

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

    Available at participating:

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

    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

    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 per year - that's up to £500 every three months
    • Parents of children born on or after 1st April 2013, and parents of disabled children, can apply now
    • On 24 November parents whose youngest child is 6 or under will be able to apply

    Get an estimate

    of how much help you could get with childcare costs

    Childcare
    calculator - external link

    Get an estimate

    of how much help you could get with childcare costs

    Childcare
    calculator - external link

    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
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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