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​Paying for Childcare

The cost of childcare can be a major expense for families and this may be a deciding factor when parent/carers are considering whether to return to work or training, and if so, whether they use ‘formal’ (registered or approved) or ‘informal’ (family and friends) childcare.  Although registered or approved childcare can be expensive, there are a number of funding streams, which can reduce the cost to the family:

Employer Childcare Voucher Scheme

One or both parents can sign up to a childcare voucher scheme through their employer.  This enables an amount of money to be deducted directly from their salary before tax, which is then paid to the childcare provider. Please contact your employer to find out if they are part of a childcare voucher scheme.

  • From October 2018, childcare voucher schemes will close to new applicants. You may be able to get Tax-Free Childcare instead.

Tax-Free Childcare

Tax-Free Childcare is a new Government scheme to help working families with their childcare costs. Parents will be able to open online childcare accounts to pay their registered childcare providers directly. For every £8 parents pay in to these accounts, the Government will add £2, and the total amount in the account can only be spent on childcare. Parents can receive up to £2,000 in Government support per child, per year, or £4,000 for disabled children. 

Universal Credit

You may be able to claim Universal Credit if you’re on a low income or out of work. If you are eligible you may be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs.
You don’t need to do anything if you’re already claiming benefits.

Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit

On top of a basic amount of Working Tax Credit,  you can get help paying for childcare if it’s provided by an Ofsted registered childcare provider or a home careworker working for a registered home care agency.  Check your eligibility here.

Free Early Education and Childcare

All 3 and 4-year-olds in England are entitled to up to 15 hours per week, over no less than 38 weeks per year of free early education or childcare a year (maximum of 570 hours per year) starting the term after the child’s third birthday. This is often taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year.  Information regarding which childcare providers in Halton offer the free entitlement is available in the Early Years Admissions booklet.

Some 2-year-olds are also eligible for up to 15 hours per week of free early education  and childcare but parents/carers need to meet certain criteria

If you would like to apply for the 2 year old funding please fill in the referral form as fully as possible.  Please include your National Insurance Number and your own date of birth, as this information is needed to check your eligibility. For more information please download our free childcare for 2 year old leaflet or contact us.

Care to Learn

If you are under 20 at the start of a publicly-funded course, for example at school or sixth form you could get weekly payments  to help with childcare costs through the Care to Learn scheme.  Check whether you are eligible here

Childcare Grant

Full-time higher education students with children can apply for a Childcare Grant.  The amount you may receive is available here.

The grant helps with childcare costs for children under 15, or under 17 if they have special educational needs.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

If you and your partner are eligible for Shared Parental Leave and Pay, you can share up to 52 weeks of leave and up to 39 weeks of pay in the year after your child’s birth or adoption.

Discretionary Learner Support

Students aged 19 or over, on a further education course and facing financial hardship, could get Discretionary Learner Support (DLS).

Financial Help for the Future - Introduction of a Tax Free Childcare Scheme

The tax-free childcare scheme will be introduced in autumn 2015, opening it to almost 2 million families. The scheme will be available to children under the age of 5 from autumn 2015, and all working parents with children under 12 will be covered within the first year.

If you are a working parent of a 3 or 4 year old, your 15 hours of free childcare could increase to 30 hours a week.   The government will provide an additional 15 free hours to eligible working parents of 3 and 4 year olds from September 2017.  Read the government’s implementation plans here.