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Help with childcare costs

COVID-19 Temporary measures

As part of social distancing measures to limit the spread of coronavirus it may be necessary for childcare providers to introduce a temporary cap on numbers to ensure that safety is prioritised. For that reason, you may not be able to secure a place immediately or with your preferred provider. If you are having difficulties finding a place, please contact us.

30 hours free childcare - Please note, if your working pattern and/or income has changed because of coronavirus (COVID-19); before you apply or reconfirm for 30 hours, please read how these changes (external link) may affect your eligibility.

If you are eligible for help to pay for your childcare, your childcare provider needs to be registered with Ofsted.

For a list of Ofsted registered childcare providers that have stated they have training and/or experience with children with special educational needs and disabilities please go to Ofsted registered childcare with SEN training and experience

Tax-free childcare

If you are a working family, you can open an online account to pay for registered childcare.

You can get Tax Free Childcare for each child aged 0-16 if disabled (0-11years if not).

If your child is disabled for every £8 you pay in the government will add £4. That’s up to £4,000 per year, £1,000 every three months, that the government will add to your account. (there are different rates for a child who is not disabled)

To be eligible your child should:

You, and any partner should:

  • each expect to earn (on average) at least £131 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage)

If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible. 

To find out more and to apply please visit

You cannot get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as claiming Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers. Which scheme you’re better off with depends on your situation. Use the childcare calculator to work out which type of support is best for you.

Want to find out if you’re eligible and apply for Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours childcare? Watch this video for step- by-step guidance on what you need to do to apply

Universal Credit for childcare

If you are a working family on Universal Credits you could get up to 85% of your childcare paid for. Your child will need to be under 17.

You could get up to £646 a month for one child, or £1,108 for two or more.

You can use it to help pay:

  • Registered childminders, nurseries, and nannies
  • Registered after-school clubs and playschemes
  • Registered schools
  • Home care workers working for a registered home care agency

For more information speak to your Universal Credit Advisor or visit

Tax credits for childcare

Tax credits are closed to new applications for the majority of people from 1 February 2019. You may be able to apply for Universal Credit instead.

If you are an existing tax credits customer, you can claim back up to 70% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 17 with a disability (16 years without a disability).

How much childcare support you can get depends on:

  • your income,
  • hours worked
  • what you pay for childcare
  • the number of children you have
  • whether you, your partner, or any of your children are disabled

See for further details.

Help to pay for childcare while you study

You could get weekly payments through Care to Learn if you're under 20 at the start of a publicly-funded course, such as a school or sixth form.

You can apply for Discretionary Learner Support to pay for childcare if you're 19 or over and in further education, for example, if you're studying for an NVQ, BTEC or PGCE.

You can apply for a Childcare Grant if you're in full-time higher education to pay for childcare costs for children under 17 if they have special needs (15 if no SEN)