Childcare and early years

Help paying for childcare

Schemes to help parents and carers with the costs of childcare.

In this section

Free childcare for 2-year-olds

Your 2-year-old could also be eligible for free childcare (up to 570 hours per year) if you have a household income of no more than £16,190 and receive one or more of the following:

  • income support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Tax Credit

Apply now for free childcare for 2-year-olds

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

If you want to apply under any of these criteria, please email the Families' Information Service at

Free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds

All 3 and 4-year-olds are entitled to free part-time education from the term following their 3rd birthday.

A part-time place is up to 15 hours a week for 38 weeks per year in a registered setting, which meet the standards set for good quality education.

Search local childcare providers

30-hour childcare

Working parents are entitled to receive 30 hours of free childcare for their 3 or 4-year-old child (from the term after their child's 3rd birthday).

These additional hours will be available where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) and each parent earns at least the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the national minimum or living wage and less than £100,000 a year.

Read more about 30-hour childcare

Tax-free childcare for parents with children aged 0 to 11

Parents who are eligible for this scheme open an online account to pay in money for their childcare costs. For every 80p that a parent pays in, the government will add 20p for every £1 you spend on childcare costs of up to a maximum of £10,000 (the government contributes up to £2,000 per child per year or £4,000 per year for disabled children).

To be eligible, parents must:

  • earn at least £115 per week but less than £100,000 per year
  • not be in receipt of childcare vouchers, tax credits or Universal Credit
  • have children who are under 12 (or under 17 for children with disabilities)

Read more about tax-free childcare

Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP)

EYPP is additional government funding to enhance early education for three and four year olds. Your child's early education provision - childminder, nursery or pre-school - could receive around £300 a year for your child to support their individual learning.

Find out more about EYPP

Which support is best for you?

Which scheme you're better off with depends on your situation. You cannot get tax-free childcare at the same time as claiming Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers.

Use's childcare calculator to work out which type of support is best for you.

Page last updated: 07 Sep 2020