Anyone with children will know childcare is expensive. You can get an idea of the average costs of different types of childcare on the Money Helper website:

Childcare Costs

Free childcare

If you have children under 4, you can get some free childcare. This is called Free Early Education Entitlement or FEEE. There are different rules depending on the age of your child and your own circumstances. Here is a summary:

  • All 3- and 4-year-olds in England can get 570 hours of free childcare every year. This gives you 15 hours each week for 38 weeks. You can use this at any Ofsted registered childcare provider.
  • Some 2 year-olds can also get 15 hours a week free childcare, if you are receiving certain benefits: 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 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit).
  • 2-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
  • If your immigration status says you have ‘no recourse to public funds’, you may still get free childcare for your 2-year-old. You must live in England and your household income must be no more than: £26,500 for families outside of London with one child or £30,600 for families outside of london with two children and you cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments.
  • You may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips.

To apply for 15 hours free childcare, you can ask any provider if they have places for the 15 hours a week free childcare or FEEE. If they do, they will organise this for you.

  • Some 3- and 4-year-olds may also be able to get an extra 15 hours free childcare (30 hours total) free childcare. You and your partner must be working, (or receiving parental leave or sick leave) and paid the equivalent of 16 hours pay per week at national minimum wage

Be aware, you cannot claim the extra free 15 hours childcare if you are a migrant from outside the EU and your UK residence card says you cannot access public funds.

There are also welfare benefits and other support you might be able to get with childcare costs. These include:

  • Tax-free childcare
  • Tax credits for childcare

Use this calculator to check what help you could get with childcare costs:

Childcare Costs Calculator

You can find out more about all types of support with childcare costs on the Government’s Childcare Choices website. You can also find out if you are able to claim and how to apply.

Childcare Choices

If you need help finding childcare and finding out what support you can get with the costs you can phone, email or write to the Family Information Service in Leeds:

PO Box 837, Family Information Service, Learning Systems, Leeds, LS1 9PZ

0113 378 9700 (Monday to Friday 10am – 3.30pm)
[email protected]
Family Information Service

Last Updated: 28 May 2024

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