Help with childcare costs

Paying for childcare

There is a range of benefits and funds that can help towards the cost of childcare when a parent or carer is working, training or volunteering. To get help, the childcare must be registered or approved.

Tax credits

If you claim Working Tax Credit (WTC), you may be able to get help with childcare costs while you work. To get this help, the childcare must be with a registered childminder, eligible nursery, children's centre, pre-school playgroup, breakfast or after-school club, holiday scheme, approved home carer or registered nanny.

Who can claim?

You can have help with childcare included when your Working Tax Credit claim is calculated if you are:

  • a lone parent working 16 or more hours a week
  • a couple and both of you work for 16 hours or more per week
  • a couple and one of you works for 16 or more hours a week and the other suffers from ill health (special rules apply)

You can also have help with childcare included when your Working Tax Credit claim is calculated if you are in a couple where one adult works for 16 or more hours a week and the other is entitled to Carer's Allowance. This is a new exception which enables these couples to claim tax credits to cover childcare costs.

You can claim up to the September after your child's 15th birthday (or 16th birthday for children with special needs).

What you get

You can get help towards childcare costs of up to £175 per week for one child or £300 for two or more children. How much help you get depends on your circumstances.

Payment is made to the main carer of the children together with Child Tax Credit. In some cases it will just be included in the Child Tax Credit.

How to claim

You claim help with childcare costs as part of your Working Tax Credit claim.

Find out how to claim on Gov.UK website

You must tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) within one month if your childcare ends, or the average costs change by more than £10 a week for four weeks or more. Try to do this in writing and keep a copy.

Remember to tell HMRC if you pay for childcare during holiday periods, even if you don't have any costs during term-time.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support

If you pay for approved childcare, it is also worth checking if you can get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support. Up to £175 of your earnings can be ignored for one child (up to £300 for two or more children).

If you have any other questions, contact the Welfare Rights Service or the Families Information and Outreach Service.

Care to Learn

Young parents under 20 may qualify for help with their childcare costs if they are returning to education, training or voluntary work.

Find out more about Care to Learn on Gov.UK

Further and higher education childcare funds

Local further education or higher education colleges receive learner support funds that are available to support their students' childcare costs.

Contact the student support team at your college or university for more information.

Jobcentre Plus

Jobcentre Plus can advise and assist financially in a number of ways to support the transition from benefits to education, training and employment.

Parents, particularly lone parents, should discuss with their Jobcentre Plus adviser about any possible help before any commitment is made to training and to ensure that they access all the financial and other support that they are entitled to.

Find your nearest Jobcentre Plus

Contact Welfare Rights

Welfare Rights enquiry form

Public Advice Line: 020 8921 6375

Textphone number: 18001 020 8921 6375

Fax: 020 8921 2016

Welfare Rights Service,
The Woolwich Centre,
35 Wellington Street,
London SE18 6HQ

Contact the Tax Credit Helpline

Textphone number: 0345 300 3909

0345 300 3900

Contact Care to Learn

0800 121 8989

Contact The Point

Opening hours: 9am to 5pm

The Point,
47 Woolwich New Road,
Woolwich SE18 6EW

020 8921 8224