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Help with Childcare Costs

Childcare Support is Expanding

Starting from April 2024, existing childcare support will be expanded in phases. By September 2025, most working families with children under the age of 5 will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare support.

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Free Childcare for 2 Year Olds

The Early Learning Programme (ELP) for 2-Year-Olds is a Government initiative that provides free childcare places for eligible 2-year-olds. Eligible children will be entitled up to 15 hours per week of free early education for a total of 38 weeks. Free places are available in participating childcare providers across the city.

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Free Early Education for 3 & 4 Year Olds

If your child is 3 or 4 years old then they are entitled to a free, part time, nursery education place before they start primary school. Nursery education can be fun for 3 & 4 year olds - they will be learning and playing with friends and looked after by skilled staff. Research shows that a child's development benefits from attending nursery education sessions. Your child is entitled to 570 hours per year (commonly taken as 15 hours per week over 38 weeks per year).

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30 hours Free Childcare for 3 and 4 year olds

Eligible working families with 3 and 4 year olds can receive up to 30 hours of free childcare each week. This is an extra 15 hours of free childcare in addition to the universal entitlement and is known as extended entitlement. To qualify for 30 hours of free childcare, each parent (or the sole parent in a single parent family) will need to earn on average, the equivalent of 16 hours on the national minimum wage per week and no more than £100,000 per year.

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Tax Free childcare

This is an online account for working parents to help pay for childcare, which is topped up by the Government. For every £8 that you put in, the Government will make a payment of £2 to a maximum of £2,000 per child, per year or £4,000 if your child is disabled. You can have an account for each of your children up to age 12 to pay your childcare provider. You cannot claim both Tax Free Childcare and Universal Credit or the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit.

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Tax credits and childcare

You may be able to claim:

Universal Credit and childcare

You may be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs if you’re eligible for Universal Credit

You (and your partner if you live with them) will usually need to either:

  • be working - it does not matter how many hours you or your partner work
  • have a job offer

How much you’ll get

The most you can get back each month is:

  • £646 for one child
  • £1108 for 2 or more children

You can apply for Universal Credit online

If you stop working

If you stop working you must report a change of circumstances in your Universal Credit account.

Help with childcare while you study

School or sixth form

You could get weekly payments through Care to Learn if you’re under 20 at the start of a publicly-funded course, for example at school or sixth form.

Further Education

You can apply for Learner Support to pay for childcare if you’re 20 or over and in further education, for example studying for an NVQ, BTEC or PGCE.

Full-time Higher Education

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

Childcare Vouchers and other employer schemes

Information about Childcare Vouchers can be found on the Government website at: Childcare Vouchers webpage

Further information can be found on the Government website at:
Get Childcare webpage

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