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.

Help to pay for childcare 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 2 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

Help to pay for childcare with universal credit

Claimants of universal credit can get to up to 85% of registered childcare costs paid. 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

You can claim for help with childcare costs from universal credit up to a month before starting work if you have a job offer. 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 or universal credit. 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:

Jobcentre Plus: Flexible Support Fund

The Flexible Support Fund (FSF) can be used to help you start or stay in work. You can ask your work coach how to apply for help from this if you need to pay for childcare that would enable you to take, or stay in, a job.

This is a discretionary fund, so you must check with your local jobcentre to find out if you are eligible for any funds.