Little-known way to get extra help with childcare if you're on benefits | The Sun

STRUGGLING parents can get extra help with childcare through a little-known scheme.

Childcare is an unavoidable fee for most working parents – unless you have friends and family around to help out, which isn't always possible.

The costs can be a huge weight on parents' shoulders so any support is always welcome.

Many parents aren't aware that they can actually get free education or childcare when their child reaches the age of two.

The support is available through the government if you live in England and receive one of the qualifying benefits.

Below we reveal who is eligible, how much you get and how to apply – as well as other childcare support for hard-up families.


Martin Lewis’ Budget verdict on childcare help & reveals ‘best’ savings account

When will the 30 hours free childcare start?

These benefits are:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit (or both), and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • The Working Tax Credit four-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

Parents of two-year-olds can also get free childcare if they:

  • are looked after by a local authority
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • get Disability Living Allowance
  • have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order

Most read in Money


Huge changes for renters to be unveiled today in shake-up


Three major energy providers pay £70 to over 100,000 customers after blunders


Thousands of users affected by outage as Sky mobile internet goes down


Save pennies and shed pounds with cook Miguel Barclay's £1 Slimming Meals

Parents get a total of 570 hours per year, which you can choose to either stretch (which is up to provider approval) or use 15 hours per week for 38 weeks.

You can use the hours from 1 January, 1 April or 1 September following your child’s second birthday.

You can use the hours from 1 January, 1 April or 1 September following your child’s second birthday.

It's important to note that you may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips.

The free place can be offered by any nursery or childminder judged outstanding or good by Ofsted, or those who are newly registered and have not been Ofsted-inspected as yet.

Parents looking to take advantage of the scheme will need to apply through their local authority.

You can find out who the local authority is in your area by heading to the government's website.

If you're unsure if you qualify or how to apply get in touch with your council and they'll be able to help.

Help with childcare costs

There are a range of tax breaks and grants to help make childcare more affordable. 

You can usually use them for care like registered childminders, nannies, playschemes, nurseries, and holiday clubs.

It’s always worth checking the government’s handy childcare costs calculator to find out which scheme will save you the most money, as not all of them can be used at the same time.

Tax-free childcare

You can get up to £500 every three months – up to a maximum of £2,000 a year – for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. 

If your child is disabled, it's even more – £1,000 every three months, up to £4,000 per year.

To receive the tax-free benefit you need to create an online childcare account.

For every £8 you pay into this account, the government will add £2 which you can use to pay your approved provider. 

You should bear in mind that you can’t claim tax-free childcare if you receive working tax credit, child tax credit, Universal Credit, or childcare vouchers.

Your tax credits will stop immediately if you successfully apply for tax-free childcare. You will also have to cancel your Universal Credit and childcare vouchers.

Use the government’s calculator tool to work out which option will work best for you.

Universal Credit childcare costs

You can claim back 85% of childcare costs up to £646 for one child or £1,108 for two or more up to August 31 following the child’s 16th birthday.

You will have to pay your childcare costs yourself up front and then claim the money back through Universal Credit – here's the government's guide on how to do that.

15 or 30 hours free childcare

All three to four-year-old children in England are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare – amounting to 570 hours per year – from the term after their third birthday.

The free allowance is usually taken as 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, but it is possible to take it at a time that suits you.

The free early education and childcare must be with an approved childcare provider and stops when your child starts school.

Working parents may be eligible to get up to 30 hours of free childcare if they are working at least 16 hours a week on average and earning the National Minimum Wage or more.

Check out what you could get and apply online at

Child benefit

You can get Child Benefit if you're responsible for a child aged under 16, or if they are under 20 and in approved education or training.

The free money is paid every four weeks, and there's no limit to how many children you can apply for – though only one person can claim for each child.

But do note that those who earn more than £50,000 a year may need to pay back some of their Child Benefits in tax.

While this help isn't directly for childcare, the money can help to cut costs.

Use local charities

Certain organisations, such as the YMCA and local church groups, sometimes run after school clubs for free.

Read More on The Sun

Vet nurse reveals the best dogs for first time owners & those to AVOID

I took a cheeky week-long break in Spain without using annual leave – here’s how

Check whether there are any eligibility requirements by speaking to the organisation directly.

These services are intended for those who can't pick their children up from school due to work responsibilities, for example.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Source: Read Full Article