Help to pay for childcare costs

Last updated: 15/04/2021

You may get help to pay for registered childcare from the Scottish Government or included in the benefits you receive.

Help to pay for childcare with tax credits

If you are already getting tax credits you can get help with up to 70% of registered childcare costs. 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. How much you actually get depends on your income.

No new claims can be made for tax credits so if you are not already getting them you can apply for universal credit to help with childcare costs.

Related links

For more on Universal Credit see here.

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

You may be able to get universal credit to pay to up to 85% of registered childcare costs. The most you can be paid for one child is £646.35 per month (85% of £760) or £1108.04 per month (85% of £1,300) for two or more children.

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

How much you actually get depends on your income.

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  you may be able to claim help with childcare costs through the Tax-free Childcare scheme. You also need to expect to earn at least the National Minimum or Living Wage for the next 3 months but less than £100,000 per year. If you are self employed your earnings can be averaged out over the year and you can still get help if you do not earn enough but started your business less than 12 months ago.

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 receiving tax credits 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 600 hours per year (nearly 16 hours per week) early learning and childcare. This will rise to 1140 hours per year from August 2021. 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 £7,320 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) from Jobcentre Plus is money that can be used to help pay for something you need to start or stay in work.

Ask your work coach how to apply for help from this fund to pay for childcare that would enable you to take, or stay in, a job.

This is a discretionary fund so how much you get will depend on how it is used within each Jobcentre Plus.


Help to pay for childcare if you are a student

If you are studying full time you can apply for the Lone Parent Childcare Grant to help pay for registered childcare. If this is not enough or you are not eligible for it you can ask for help from the college or university discretionary funds. Ask at the college or university for details.