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Childcare in the UK

What help can I get with childcare costs?

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What help can I get with childcare costs?

There are a number of ways you might be able to cut your childcare costs. Read on to find out more about the options available to parents.


The main ways to cut costs are through childcare vouchers from your employer, child tax credits if you're eligible, or a nanny share. Children over three years old are also eligible for some free childcare.

Childcare vouchers

Childcare vouchers are a way of paying for your childcare directly from your gross salary (before tax and National Insurance are deducted). You can get childcare vouchers through your employer. 

Your company may offer its own voucher scheme, or it may offer vouchers through a childcare voucher provider such as Kiddivouchers, Employersforchildcare, Edenred or Computershare Voucher Services. You can then use these vouchers to pay your nursery, nanny or childminder. 

Your employer must choose to opt in to the childcare voucher scheme for you to receive them. This is optional - employers have no obligation to provide a childcare voucher scheme for their employees. 

If you're self-employed, you're excluded from the scheme. If you get help with childcare costs through the childcare element of working tax credit, claiming childcare vouchers could reduce the tax credit support you get, so check this before applying for them. 

Not all childcare providers accept childcare vouchers, especially after-school or holiday childcare providers.

If you want to use childcare vouchers to help pay for a nanny, you have to employ one who's registered with the relevant body.

The government plans to introduce updates to childcare vouchers in early 2017. Visit our guide to childcare vouchers to find out more about the scheme and how it works.

Childcare tax credits

Childcare tax credits are available to working parents who pay towards childcare costs and qualify for working tax credit, so have an income below a certain level.

To be eligible, a single parent must work more than 16 hours a week, or parents in a couple must both work 16 hours a week or more. There are some exceptions, however.

See our guide on childcare vouchers versus childcare tax credit to help you decide which one suits you best.

Free childcare

Three and four-year-olds can get 15 hours of free childcare and early learning for 38 weeks of the year in England, and 10 hours a week in Wales. In Scotland, three and four-year-olds are eligible for 600 hours of free childcare a year. This free provision is also extended to two-year-olds in disadvantaged circumstances. Find out more details in our guide to free childcare

Nanny share

If you choose a nanny as your main form of childcare, it could be worth considering a nanny share to cut costs.

This works by sharing a nanny with another family in your local area. Websites such as www.nannyshare.co.uk allow you to input your postcode and find other families in your area who are interested in nanny sharing.

Childcare agencies in your local area may also be able to help you find a nanny share.