Help to pay for childcare costs

Last updated: 22/01/2020

You can get help from the government to pay for any type of ‘registered’ childcare.

Childcare payment with tax credits

You can get help with up to 70% of registered childcare costs from working tax credits. The maximum you can get for one child is £122.50 per week (70% of £175) or £210 per week (70% of £300) for two or more children.

Apply online

Related links

See our Universal Credit Advice Guide for more information.

Childcare payment with universal credit

Can you get help with childcare costs if you have more than two children?

Use the Gov.UK calculator to find out how much help you could get with childcare costs

Childcare payment with universal credit

Claimants of universal credit are entitled to up to 85% of registered childcare costs. The most you can be paid for one child is £646.35 per month or up to £1108.04 per month for two or more children.

You can apply for childcare costs up to the September after their 15th birthday, or 16th if the child is disabled and gets Disability Living Allowance, is registered blind or is partially sighted.

Help from universal credit to pay childcare deposits

Most childcare providers ask for deposits and payments in advance. As your wages and benefits are normally paid in arrears, it can be difficult to pay these upfront costs when moving into work.

Under Universal Credit childcare costs may be claimed up to a month before starting work and can include deposits, retainer fees or advance costs. Universal Credit claimants can also ask for early payments of their benefits through advances and budgeting advances – these must be paid back.

Help to pay for childcare

For more information and to compare the different options on help to pay for childcare, take a look at

Tax-Free childcare

If you are working 16 or more hours per week and earn at least £120 per week, but less than £100,000 per year, you may be able to claim help with childcare costs through the Tax-free Childcare scheme.

You can claim for children up to the September after their 11th birthday or up to age 17 if they have a disability.

For every £8 you spend on childcare the government will refund £2 into an account you need to open online. Up to £2,000 per year can be refunded for each child or up to £4,000 if your child has a disability. Your childcare provider needs to be signed up to the scheme.

You cannot get tax-free childcare if you are already claiming child tax credit, working tax credit, universal credit or childcare vouchers. If you are getting one of these, and you apply for tax-free childcare, it will stop and you may be financially worse off.

Free early learning and childcare places

All parents of three and four year olds are entitled to nearly 16 hours per week early learning and childcare. Two year olds will also get these hours if you receive child tax credit and are not working, you get child tax credit and working tax credit and have an income under £6,420 or you get universal credit and your monthly take home pay is £610 or less.

For more information and to see if you are eligible visit:

Flexible Support Fund

Jobcentre plus has a flexible support fund (FSF) that can be used to help you move in to or remain in work. You can ask your work coach about applying for help from this fund for upfront childcare costs or for a taster session at the childcare service.

This is a discretionary fund so you are not guaranteed help.