Reduce the cost of childcare
There are lots of different ways of reducing the cost of childcare. There are options for toddlers, teens and for parents who are studying.
The government’s Childcare Choices website provides further information on the different financial support available, such as the ‘is it for me’? feature, which can help guide families to view which options are available to them.
Free and impartial information on the different options for parents and carers is provided by York Family Information Service.
Families can also access further information for help with childcare and other costs on the government’s Help for Households page.
Read more about:
- reducing the cost of childcare for 2-year-olds
- reducing the cost of childcare for 3- and 4-year-olds
- tax free childcare, tax credits and support whilst you study
- other options for support
Reducing the cost of childcare for 2-year-olds
Some 2-year-olds are eligible to receive up to 15 hours funded childcare, the term after they turn 2-years-old. There are different eligibility criteria such as if your child is adopted, has Special Educational Needs (SEN) or if the family is in receipt of certain benefits. Visit the childcare for 2-year-olds page for further information and to find out if you could apply.
Reducing the cost of childcare for 3- and 4-year-olds
All 3- and 4-year-olds are eligible to receive up to 15 hours funded childcare. This is a universal Funded Entitlement (FE) offer.
Some 3- and 4-year-olds are also eligible to receive:
Read more about funded childcare for 3- and 4-year-olds.
Tax free childcare, tax credits and support whilst you study
To receive support with childcare costs, childcare must be at:
- an Ofsted registered provider
- at a school
Tax free childcare
Tax free childcare is available for:
- working families, including the self-employed, in the UK
- those earning under £100k and at least £139 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage) each
- those who aren't receiving Tax Credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers
- those with children aged 0 to 11 (or 0 to 16 if disabled)
- every £8 you pay into an online account, the government will add an extra £2, up to £2,000 per child per year
Working Tax Credits for childcare
Working Tax credits for childcare are for:
- working families, in the UK
- those with children under 16 (or under 17 if disabled); support received up to 1 September following the child's sixteenth birthday
- 70% of childcare costs, up to a cap
If you cannot make a new claim for Tax Credits, you may be able to apply for Universal Credit instead.
Universal Credit for childcare
Universal Credit for childcare is available for:
- working families claiming Universal Credit, in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
- no minimum hours required
- those with children under 17; support received up to 1 September following the child's sixteenth birthday
You may be able to claim up to 85% of childcare costs if you're eligible for Universal Credit and meet some additional conditions. There is a cap on the amount for 1 and 2 children.
If you receive Universal Credit but are unemployed you may still be able to receive some support if you require childcare whilst accessing a short-term course to help you find work via the Flexible Support Fund. Speak to your Work Coach for further information.
If you've accepted a job, you can claim childcare costs for the month before you start work. Talk to your Work Coach about the job offer and support options as soon as possible.
Support with childcare whilst you study
You could receive:
- 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
Tax Credits, Child Benefit and Guardian's allowance
Find guidance and information on other ways to receive financial support with childcare and you can use the tax credits calculator to work out an estimate on how much tax credits you could receive.
Other options for support
There are other options available for support to reduce the cost of childcare.
Shared Parental Leave
You and your partner may be able to get Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if you’re having a baby or adopting a child. You can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between you. You need to share the pay and leave in the first year after your child is born or placed with your family. You can use SPL to take leave in blocks separated by periods of work or take it all in one go. You can also choose to be off work together or to stagger the leave and pay.
There is no absolute right to work part time. However, you have the right to ask to work flexibly in your current job, and your employer has a duty to consider your request seriously, if you're:
- an employee who has worked for your employer for 26 weeks and has a child under 17 (or a disabled child under 18 who gets Disability Living Allowance)
- an employee who has worked for your employer for 26 weeks and cares for a disabled adult
The right to request is available to both men and women, and covers the hours an employee works, the times they are required to work and the place of work (for example, home or a workplace). It's important to understand that a change granted under the right to request is permanent. If you want a temporary change only this must be specifically negotiated with your employer.
Even if you do not have the right to request (for example, you have not worked for your employer for long enough), you can still ask to change your pattern of work, and sex discrimination law may apply if you're turned down.
For more information about flexible working contact York Family Information Service on telephone: 01904 554444. You can also contact Working Families on telephone: 0800 013 0313 for advice on your rights at work.
Family and Childcare Trust
The Family and Childcare Trust is a national charity working for families to get high quality and affordable childcare. They have a fantastic website that has loads of information on all the different ways of reducing your childcare bill. Read their childcare guides.