Childcare may seem costly, but before you decide you cannot afford it, remember that most families are entitled to financial help.

Check if you are eligible for help

childcarechoices.gov.uk

Child Benefit is a payment that you can claim for your child. It is usually paid every four weeks but can sometimes be paid weekly. There are separate rates payable for each child.

The payment can be claimed by anyone who qualifies. Child Benefit is a tax-free benefit for people bringing up children. To qualify you need to be resident in the UK and responsible for a child who is also resident here.

Who can get Child Benefit?

If you’re responsible for a child, you can normally get Child Benefit for them – even if you’re not their parent.

You are eligible for Child Benefit if you can answer ‘yes’ to one of the following criteria.

Are you bringing up a child who:

  • Is aged under 16
  • Is aged over 16 but under 20 and is still in education or training that counts for Child Benefit
  • Is aged 16 or 17 years old and has left school recently, and has registered for work or training with the Careers Service

If you and another person both claim Child Benefit for the same child, only one of you can get it.

Child Benefit payments usually stop when your child reaches 16, unless they are in education or training that counts for Child Benefit. For example, an advanced course at higher education level – such as a degree – doesn’t count.

You can’t get Child Benefit for your child once they reach the age of 20.

You can claim Child Benefit as soon as your child is born or comes to live with you.

Child Benefit Helpline

You can claim Child Benefit online, using the website details given below or by calling the helpline:

Child Benefit helpline: 0345 302 1444

Opening hours

8.00 am to 8.00 pm, Monday to Friday
8.00 am to 4.00 pm Saturday
Closed Sundays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day

This is a payment to support families with children. You do not have to be working to claim.

Child Tax Credit is paid directly into the bank of the person in the family who is mainly responsible for looking after the child/children. It is paid in addition to Child Benefit and any Working Tax Credit.

You could get Child Tax Credit for each child you’re responsible for if they’re:

  • under 16
  • under 20 and in approved education or training

You don’t need to be working to claim Child Tax Credit.

You get money for each child that qualifies and Child Tax Credit won’t affect your Child Benefit.

How much you get depends on your circumstances – you can use the HMRC – Tax Credits Calculator to work this out.

If you qualify for Income Support or Income based Job Seeker’s Allowance you will be entitled to the maximum amount of Child Tax Credit for your children. Once you have made a claim you should report changes promptly to avoid being over or under paid.

You can find out your eligibility for Tax Credits by visiting the following websites or calling the Tax Credit helpline:

Tax Credit Helpline: 0345 300 3900

For general information about tax credits

Opening hours

8.00 am to 8.00 pm, Monday to Friday
8.00 am to 4.00 pm Saturday
Closed Sundays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day

Many employers have now signed up to the Childcare Vouchers scheme, which allows parents to sacrifice some of their gross salary in return for “vouchers” that can be used to pay for childcare.

The first £55 each week (£243 each month) can be bought free of tax or National Insurance, meaning a lower rate taxpayer could save around £962 per year, and a higher rate taxpayer around £1,195.

Most companies can join the scheme and, so if you haven’t already, it could be well worth asking to see if yours has signed up with one of the voucher providers. However, if you are able to claim benefits, you may find the Childcare Voucher scheme affects these, so look in to your individual circumstances before signing up.

Am I eligible for childcare vouchers?

Any working parent, or those with parental responsibility for a child living with them, is eligible for childcare vouchers. The vouchers can be used by a non-working partner as well. So if one parent takes up the vouchers, for example, the stay-at-home partner can use the vouchers to pay for approved childcare provision.

How do I claim childcare vouchers?

Childcare vouchers are only available through your employer who must run a voucher scheme.

How does the scheme work?

Childcare vouchers can be provided as an additional benefit or reward on top of an employee’s salary, however, the majority of schemes are offered via salary sacrifice. This means that they are offered to employees as a voluntary benefit, with the employee converting part of their salary into vouchers.

You can choose to take childcare vouchers up to the value of £2,916 p.a. per person as part of your remuneration package, as long as your cash salary is not reduced below the minimum national minimum wage. This means that if you elect to accept childcare vouchers as a portion of your salary, you will not have to pay national insurance contributions (NIC) or tax on up to £55 per week on the vouchers. This is known as salary sacrifice.

Who can I pay with childcare vouchers?

Childcare vouchers cover childcare up to the age of 15 and can be used as full or part payment for any of the following:

  • Day nursery   
  • Pre-school playgroup          
  • Out of school club    
  • Childminder

To benefit from the tax and NI exemption, your chosen childcare provider must be registered with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW).

Frequently Asked Questions for employees about interaction of Tax Credits and Childcare Vouchers.

For up to date information on ‘Universal Credit: childcare guide’ – please go to: www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-childcare/universal-credit-childcare-guide