Childcare costs

Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit is a benefit to help with the cost of looking after children.

Tax Credits are gradually being replaced by Universal Credit. The benefit you should claim will depend on where you live and your situation. See gov.uk for more details. Or speak to a welfare rights adviser to find out more.

Who can claim?

You can claim if you are aged 16 or over. You, and your partner if you have one, must earn below a certain amount. It does not matter whether you are working or not.

You must be responsible for:

  • a child aged under 16
  • a young person aged 16 to 19 who normally lives with you and is in full-time education or training – this does not include advanced education, such as university, or training that is paid for by an employer.

If you are living in an area where Universal Credit has been introduced, you can claim that instead.

What you could get

The amount you get from Child Tax Credit will depend on your situation. It could include the following:

  • A payment for each child of up to £2,780 a year. This is called the child element. You can only claim for up to two children. There are exceptions to this which you can read about at gov.uk/guidance/child-tax-credit-exceptions-to-the-2-child-limit
  • An extra payment for each disabled child of up to £3,275 a year.
  • An extra payment for each severely disabled child of up to £1,290 a year.

How to claim

Call the HMRC tax credits helpline on 0345 300 3900 or use textphone 0345 300 3909.

Childcare costs

You may get help with the cost of government-approved childcare through Working Tax Credit. How much you get depends on how much you earn. The maximum you can get is £122.50 a week for one child, or £210 a week for two or more children. You can find out more at gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs

If you get Housing Benefit, some of your childcare costs can be taken into account.

If you get Universal Credit you may also be able to get help with childcare costs. You usually need to have a job or a job offer. If you live with a partner, they will need to have a job or job offer, too.

Childcare vouchers and employer help

You may need to arrange childcare while you go to appointments, have treatment or deal with side effects. There are different ways to get help with these costs.

If you work, your employer may allow you to pay for childcare using childcare vouchers. This means that you pay for childcare through your salary, but before tax and National Insurance have been taken. This saves you money. This scheme is under review in 2018 and may be changed.

Some employers pay childcare costs directly or provide a workplace nursery. Speak to your employer or see gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs/childcare-vouchers to find out more about what is available.

If you are off work temporarily and are getting sick pay, you may continue to get the childcare vouchers or other help. This might be as part of your contract. Or it might be because you have an understanding employer. Talk to the HR department at your work about getting help with childcare costs during sick leave. For more general information about childcare vouchers, visit gov.uk

You may also be able to get help with looking after children. This could be from:

  • social services – contact your local council in England, Scotland or Wales, or Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland
  • charities such as Home-Start – visit home-start.org.uk
  • family and friends.

Flexible working may also help, if this is possible for you.

Back to Help with children's costs

School and education costs

You may be able to get help with school and education costs, including school meals, clothing and travel.

Tom's Gift

Tom’s Gift gives children who need treatment for cancer a special present in recognition of their bravery and resilience.