Did you know that there are a number of different ways that you can get help paying for childcare? Below we have listed the most common methods and added the website and phone number where you can get more information.
Many employers now offer employees the opportunity to have part of their monthly salary paid in the form of childcare vouchers (up to a maximum of £246 per month per parent) which are free from tax and national insurance. This means you can save around a thousand pounds a year depending on the rate of tax and national insurance you pay. If both parents use this method, the benefit can be doubled. Small Wonders accepts vouchers from Sodexho Pass, Care4, Busy Bees and other voucher companies. Ask your employer if they have a childcare voucher scheme in place. And if they don’t, suggest they start one as there are cost benefits to them as well!
Childcare Tax Credit
9 out of 10 families are entitled to tax credits. As part of Working Families Tax Credit you may qualify for extra help towards the costs of childcare. If you do qualify, the total amount of help you receive will depend upon your income. It could be as much as £140 per week for one child and £240 per week for two or more children. For more information visit www.taxcredits.inlandrevenue.gov.uk or call 0845 300 3900.
Government Funded Nursery Places for 3 and 4 Year Olds
The government provides funding which entitles all 3 and 4 year olds to a free nursery education place for up to 6 terms before they reach statutory school age (the beginning of the term following their 5th birthday). A child is entitled to up to 5 sessions per week of 2 and a half hours per session for 38 weeks of the year (roughly term times). The money is paid directly to the nursery by the council which means that there is nothing for you to pay!
For information on whether your child is eligible (based solely on birth date), please ask at the nursery.
Government Funded Nursery Places for 2 Year Olds
Some 2-year-olds in England can get free early education and childcare. You must be getting one of the following:
- Income support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
- Child Tax Credit and/or Working Tax Credit and have an annual income under £16,190
- the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- the Working Tax Credit 4-wee run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
- Universal Credit
Children are also entitled to a place if:
- they’re looked after by a local council
- they have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education health and care plan
- they get Disability Living Allowance
- they’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order
If your child is eligible, you can start claiming after they turn 2. The date you can claim will depend on when their birthday is.
Full-time students up to the age of 55 with dependent children can receive up to 85% of their childcare costs. How much help you get will depend on your income. It will be based on 85% of the actual costs of registered or accredited childcare in term time and short vacations, and 70% of actual costs during the long vacation, with no more than £100 a week for one child or £150 a week for two or more children. The DWP will not count the childcare grant when they work out your benefit entitlement. It is usually paid in three installments from the Student Loans Company, with your loan. You will not be eligible for both the lone parents’ grant and the childcare grant. You will not have to repay this help. For more information, contact your local education authority.