Little-known way to get extra help with childcare if you’re on benefits

PROBLEM parents can get extra help with childcare through a little-known program.

Babysitting is an unavoidable expense for most working parents – unless you have friends and family around to help, this isn’t always possible.

Struggling parents can get extra help with childcare through a little-known program


Struggling parents can get extra help with childcare through a little-known programCredit: Alamy

Expenses can be a heavy burden on a parent’s shoulders so any support is always welcome.

Many parents don’t know that they can actually get free education or childcare when their child is two years old.

Support is available through the government if you live in the UK and receive one of the eligible benefits.

Below we reveal who is eligible as well as other childcare support for families in need.

These benefits are:

  • Income support
  • Income-Based Job Seeker Allowance (JSA)
  • Employment Allowance and Income Related Assistance (ESA)
  • Universal credit and your household income of £15,400 a year or less after tax, excluding benefit payments
  • guarantee factor of retirement credit
  • Child Tax Credit, Employment Tax Credit (or both) and your household income of £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • continuing 4 weeks work tax credit (the payment you get when you stop being eligible for the work tax credit)

Two-year-olds can also get free childcare if they:

  • taken care of by the local government
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • receive living allowance for people with disabilities
  • ceased care under an adoption order, special guardianship order, or child placement order

It is important to note that you may incur additional costs such as meals, diapers or trips.

Support child care expenses

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

You can often use them for care such as registered babysitters, nannies, plays, daycares, and vacation clubs.

It’s always worth checking government convenience child care cost calculator to find out which program will save you the most money, as not all of them can be used at the same time.

Tax-free childcare service

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

If your child has a disability, it’s even more – £1,000 every three months, up to £4,000 per year.

To receive tax-free benefits, you need to create a online childcare account.

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

You should remember that you cannot claim tax-free childcare if you receive a work tax credit, child tax credit, Universal Credit, or childcare voucher.

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

Use government calculator to find out which option will work best for you.

Universal Credit’s child care costs

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

You will have to pay your own childcare costs upfront and then claim a refund through Universal Credit – here’s the government guide on how to do that.

15 or 30 hours of free childcare

All children aged three to four in the UK are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare – the equivalent of 570 hours a year – from the period after their 3rd birthday.

The free allowance is usually calculated as 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, but you can use it at a time that works for you.

Free child care and early education must be provided by an approved child care provider and will stop when your child starts school.

Working parents may be eligible for up to 30 hours of free childcare if they work an average of at least 16 hours a week and earn the National Minimum Wage or more.

Check out what you can get and apply online at

child allowance

You can get Child Benefit if you are responsible for raising children under the age of 16 or if they are under 20 years of age and are in an approved education or training process.

The free amount is paid every four weeks, and there’s no limit to how many kids you can sign up for – although only one can claim per child.

But be aware that those earning more than £50,000 a year may need to pay back a portion of the Child Benefit in tax dollars.

While this help isn’t directly for child care, the money can help cut costs.

Use local charities

Some organizations, such as the YMCA and local church groups, sometimes run free after-school clubs.

Check if there are any eligibility requirements by talking to the organization directly.

Big bust and hips, unflattering bikini, ugly red outfit
Shoppers go crazy over Primark's new pajamas that can be worn as outerwear

For example, these services are for people who are unable to pick up their children from school due to work responsibilities.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

Related Articles

Back to top button