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Paying for Childcare

Help with childcare costs

Once you have found and chosen a quality childcare provider, the next step is to look at what assistance is available to help you pay for your childcare.

There are several different schemes available to help parents and carers pay their childcare costs, depending on their individual family circumstances. Details of some of these schemes are given below. For more information about which schemes you might be eligible for, please contact us. We will be happy to help.

If you do not qualify for any of the other schemes outlined below then Tax Free Childcare may help you in the future. This is a new scheme due to start in spring 2017. The exact date is still to be confirmed by the Government but please call us on 01724 296629 for the latest information.

You will be able to open an online account in to which you, or anyone else, can pay in money to cover your childcare costs. For every 80 pence you pay in, the Government will pay in an extra 20 pence. The payment will be calculated and paid every three months. You will then be able to use the total amount saved in the account to pay your childcare bills. 

Unlike help available through Universal Credit, the money will be available before your bill is due to be paid. 

To be eligible to open an account you must: 

  • be in work and earning at least £50 per week
  • the self-employed will also be eligible
  • not be claiming help with childcare costs through Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit 

Tax Free Childcare will replace employer childcare voucher schemes. Many voucher schemes have already been closed to new applicants, although they remain open to existing users. 

We will keep you updated via our e-newsletter Family Focus.

Three and four year olds

All three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare per week (for 38 weeks per year) at a private nursery, school nursery, pre-school or registered childminder who is approved to offer the funding. The funding is available the term after the child turns three as follows:

Child turns three between  Funding begins 
1 January and 31 March

Summer term

1 April and 31 August

Autumn term

1 September and 31 December

Spring term

You can ask to reduce the weekly funding to 11 hours a week and use it over the full 52 weeks of the year. Equally, you do not have to use the full 15 hours if you do not want your child to attend for the full amount. 

If you need your child to attend for more than 15 hours per week you can pay for additional hours yourself as long as the childcare provider has these hours available. 

To claim your free place simply contact the childcare provider you wish to use to see if they have a place available. You can get a list of the childcare providers in your area by contacting us on fis@northlincs.gov.uk or 01724 296629. 

The provider will complete a form with you for the funding when your child starts. 

The amount of funding available will be increased to 30 hours per week for children of working parents from September 2017.

The extra hours will only be funded where:

  • both parents work, or
  • one parent works and the other is unable to work for a specific reason, or
  • a single parent is in work.

Further details on how you will be able to apply for the extra funding will be available from your childcare provider or the Family Information Service nearer the time. You can keep up to date by signing up to our Family Focus e-newsletter. 

Two year olds

Some two year olds are also eligible for the 15 hours of free funding if they live in North Lincolnshire and their family meets any one of the following criteria: 

  • Receive Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit and have an annual household income, as assessed by HMRC, that does not exceed £16,190 
  • Receive Income Support 
  • Receive Income-based Job Seekers Allowance 
  • Receive Income related Employment and Support Allowance 
  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit 
  • The Working Tax Credit four week run on 

Or if they: 

  • Have a current Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or a Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC) 
  • Attract Disability Living Allowance 
  • Are Looked After by the local council 
  • Have left the care of the local council through a Special Guardianship Order, Adoption or Child Arrangement Order 

To apply for a free childcare place for your two year old, visit our free childcare page and complete the online application form. 

Alternatively call us on 01724 296629 for more information and a paper application form.

*Two year olds will not be able to access the maximum 30 hours of free childcare per week from September 2017 even if both parents work as this is only available to children aged three or four. 

Working Tax Credit (WTC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are being replaced by Universal Credit. In North Lincolnshire new applicants have been claiming Universal Credit since  June 2015.  Families currently receiving Working Tax Credit and/or Child Tax Credit are being moved across to Universal Credit gradually, and you will receive a letter from HMRC informing you of when you will be moved across. 

Childcare help under Working Tax Credit

You are eligible to claim the childcare element of Working Tax Credit if:

  • you are eligible for Working Tax Credit
  • you are a single parent and work at least 16 hours per week
  • you have a partner and you both work for at least 16 hours per week
  • one of you works for at least 16 hours per week and the other partner is in hospital, in prison or entitled to certain benefits
  • you are on sick leave or maternity/paternity leave from your normal paid work 

The amount of help you can get with your childcare costs through the childcare element of Working Tax Credit depends on your income, but can be a maximum of 70 per cent of your total costs. There is a cap on the maximum amount you can receive. 

If you would like to claim the childcare element of Working Tax Credit you can complete the relevant section of the WTC claim form when you first apply. If you already receive WTC but now wish to claim the childcare element you will need to contact the WTC helpline on 0345 300 3900. You will need to provide them with the OfSTED registration number of your childcare provider and the amount you pay weekly for childcare. If you use more childcare during school holidays for example, remember to work out the average amount it costs you over the year.

You cannot claim for any hours of childcare that are already paid for by your employer (through childcare vouchers, for exmaple) or by the council for a free education place for a two, three or four year old.

You will need to inform HMRC if you change childcare providers, your childcare costs fall or rise and of any other change that will affect your eligibility for Tax Credits such as changes to your income or moving in with a partner. 

Childcare costs and Universal Credit 

You can get help with childcare costs if you get Universal Credit (UC) and:

  • you work (there are no minimum hours)
  • childcare is used to allow you to go to work

The amount of help you will get depends on your income up to a maximum of 85 per cent of your childcare costs or a maximum of £646 per month for one child or £1108 per month for two or more children. 

Please note:

  • It is important to note that you cannot claim more help to cover higher childcare costs during school holidays for example. Unlike with Working Tax Credit, childcare costs are not averaged out over the year.
  • Unlike WTC, childcare payments under Universal Credit are paid in arrears so you will have to pay your childcare costs up front and then claim them back. You will have to make your claim within a fixed period of time and the payment will then be made along with your next UC payment.
  • You can claim help with childcare costs under UC until 31 August following your child’s 16th birthday.

If you are looking to return to work or training, support might be available from your local Jobcentre Plus.

There are several schemes available to assist students with the cost of paying for childcare whilst they study. They could be a young parent, an adult learner, full-time or part-time or studying or training for a return to work. More information about the help available can be found on GOV.UK:

As well as the help available through Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit or Early Education Funding for children outlined above, parents and carers of children with a disability or special educational need may also be entitled to other sources of financial help to cover their childcare costs.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

The 'care' component of DLA can be claimed when a child is three months old, if they require extra care and supervision due to a physical and/or mental disability. The 'mobility' component can be claimed when the child reaches three years old. For more information and to receive a claim pack, please contact the benefits enquiry help line on 0800 882200.                  

Direct Payments

If you have a child with a disability you can apply to North Lincolnshire Council for Direct Payments. This means you have more choice and control over the care your child receives. Direct Payments can allow you to shape your own childcare package to meet you and your child's needs.

For more information on Direct Payments call 01724 407988 or visit our dedicated Direct Payments page.

 The Local Offer

For information about resources, services, support, activities and childcare in North Lincolnshire for children with Special Educational Needs or disabilities and their families, visit the North Lincolnshire Local Offer website.

There may be other schemes available to help you meet the costs of your childcare so please contact us on fis@northlincs.gov.uk or 01724 296629 more information.

Related pages

Contact details

fis@northlincs.gov.uk
01724 296629

Family Information Service
Hewson House
PO Box 35
Station Road
Brigg
DN20 8XJ

Opening hours

Monday to Thursday: 9am to 5pm

Friday: 9am to 4.30pm 

Last updated: 08/02/2017
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