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Help with childcare costs

The government is introducing ways to help parents with childcare costs. 

Whether you have toddlers or teens, you could get support. See the different types of support available below.

Childcare Choices - Help with childcare costs

Childcare Choices

Look at the Childcare Choices website for all the help on offer (External link)

Parents and carers

Childcare Choices provides information on:

  • 15 hours free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.
  • 30 hours free chilcare for 3 and 4 year olds.
  • Tax Free Childcare.
  • Tax Credits for Childcare.
  • Universal Credits for Childcare.
  • Childcare Vouchers.
  • Support while you study.

Local offer

The Local Offer serves those with individual needs, require help and support between the ages of 0-25.

If you are struggling to find a childcare provider Rochdale Family Information Service can give you details about childcare in your local area.  You can also ask them about other specialist services that your child may need because of their disability.

Help with childcare costs

Childcare providers

The government launched two schemes in September 2017 to further help with the cost of childcare. These are Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare.

Find out how the schemes affect you as a childcare provider (External link)

Find funding streams available to providers to support inclusion & disability

Useful links

Find a childcare provider

Free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year old's

Rochdale Borough Council provides free early education places up to 15 hours per week for eligible 2 year olds from the term after their second birthday and all 3 and 4 year olds, from the term after their third birthday.

Eligible 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 30 hours free childcare per week.

Further information

Free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

You can check your eligibility and apply for any of the free education places by accessing the Rochdale Council Parent Portal

30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year old's

From September 2017, the government introduced a 30 hour free childcare entitlement for parents of children who meet certain criteria.

Further information

Find out if you eligible for 30 hours free childcare

Tax Free Childcare

What is Tax Free Childcare

Parents will be able to open a new childcare account. For every £8 a parent pays into their childcare account, the government will pay in an extra £2. Parents can get up to £2,000 government support per child per year towards their childcare costs - that's up to £500 every 3 months. If they have a disabled child, they can receive up to £4,000 per child – a total of £1,000 every 3 months. They can then use this money to pay their childcare provider.

The money can go towards a whole range of regulated childcare, whether nurseries, childminders, after school clubs or holiday clubs.

Tax-Free Childcare will be gradually rolled out to parents with children aged under 12, with everyone who is eligible able to apply by the end of March 2018.

The government has started inviting parents to apply for Tax-Free Childcare beginning with parents of the youngest children first. Check whether Tax-Free Childcare is the best offer for you using the childcare calculator.

Parents will only be able to pay their childcare provider from their childcare account if their childcare provider is signed up to Tax-Free Childcare. While parents can’t make payments using both Tax-Free Childcare and childcare vouchers, childcare providers who are signed up to Tax-Free Childcare can receive payments from both schemes.

Parents apply for both Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare through a single online application. 30 hours free childcare is available to working parents of three and four year olds in England. Parents should apply online now to get their eligibility codes in good time if they plan to use 30 hours free childcare from January 2018, when the next term starts.

Once eligible parents have opened their new account they can start paying their childcare provider straightaway, using the government contribution.


You're usually eligible if all of the following apply:

Your child:

  • Is under 12, or 17 if they're registered as having a disability
  • Usually lives with you.

You (and your partner, if you have one):

  • Are 16 or over
  • Live or work in the UK
  • Are employed or self employed
  • Are over 21 and earn on average at least £120 a week, unless in your first year of self-employment. Different rates apply if you're under 21 or an apprentice
  • Earn less than £100,000 a year each
  • Don't get other support with your childcare, including from a childcare voucher or salary sacrifice scheme

You may also be eligible if you have a partner and one of you gets any of the following benefits:

  • Carers Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Benefit

How to apply

Apply for Tax Free Childcare (External link)

Useful links

Childcare providers: sign up and receive payments from Tax-Free Childcare

Tax-Free Childcare: 10 things parents should know

Tax Credits

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

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

How much you’ll get will depend on your circumstances. Child Tax Credit won’t affect your Child Benefit (External link)

Only one household can get Child Tax Credit for a child.

Please note: From 6 April 2017, most people will only get the child element of Child Tax Credit for up to 2 children (External link). You’ll still be able to claim it for more than 2 children if they were born before 6 April 2017.

You may be able to get help from the government to pay for childcare like childminders and nurseries. You must use ‘approved childcare’ to qualify for help, for example OFSTED Registered.

You could get extra tax credits to help pay for some of your childcare costs while you’re working.

You can get up to £122.50 extra per week for 1 child, or £210 for 2 or more children - it depends on how much you earn.

It won’t cover all of your childcare costs - Use the tax credits childcare calculator to work out what childcare costs you can claim (External link).

You could get help with your childcare costs with Universal Credit instead of tax credits (External link).

You can’t get Universal Credit and tax credits at the same time.

Useful links

Child and Family Benefits

Healthy Start Vouchers

Working out your childcare costs for tax credits

Help paying for childcare


Helpline: 0345 300 3900

Textphone: 0345 300 3909

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It’s paid monthly - or twice a month for some people in Scotland.

You may be able to get it if you’re on a low income or out of work.

Whether you can claim Universal Credit depends on where you live and your circumstances.

If you already get benefits

Universal Credit will replace the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit

If you currently receive any of these benefits, you cannot claim Universal Credit at the same time.

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages across the UK. You do not need to do anything until you hear from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about moving to Universal Credit, unless you have a change in circumstances.

For more information please see the GOV.Uk website (External link)

Help with childcare costs for student parents

Discretionary Learner Support

The money can help pay for things like:

  • Accommodation and travel
  • Course materials and equipment
  • Childcare - if you qualify

To get Discretionary Learner Support (DLS) you must be:

  • 19 or over, studying at a learning provider funded by the Skills Funding Agency (check with your college)
  • You must be 20 or over to get help with childcare costs. If you’re 19, apply for Care to Learn instead.

You can apply even if you get other types of funding such as:

  • Professional and Career Development Loans
  • Care to Learn
  • New Deal for Lone Parents
  • Disability Living Allowance

Who can’t apply:

You can’t claim if you’re:

  • Getting student finance for higher education
  • On a learn direct course
  • On a New Deal programme (except New Deal for Lone Parents)
  • On an apprenticeship training scheme
  • On a work-based learning course
  • On an Adult & Community Learning course

How to apply:

Apply directly through your training provider (for example, your college)

Childcare Grant

You may be eligible for help with your learning costs if you:

  • Are a full-time higher education student
  • Have children under 15, or under 17 if they have special educational needs

The grant:

  • Doesn’t have to be paid back
  • Is paid on top of your other student finance

How to apply:

You must be eligible for student finance to apply for a childcare grant (External link)

Apply online at (External link)

You can also contact Student Finance England on 0845 300 5090 to apply.

Parents' Learning Allowance

You may be eligible for help with your learning costs if you’re a full-time student with children. This is called Parents’ Learning Allowance.

How much you get depends on your household income.
The allowance:

  • Doesn’t have to be paid back
  • Is paid on top of your other student finance
  • Won’t affect your benefits or tax credit


If you’re a student from England with dependent children you may qualify if you’re taking:

  • A full-time undergraduate course
  • An Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course

You don’t need to be paying for childcare to qualify.

How to apply:

You can apply for the Parents' Learning Allowance when you apply for student finance (External link)

Care to Learn

If you’re studying and aged under 20 at the start of your course, Care to Learn can help pay for your childcare costs while you’re learning.

Care to Learn can help with the cost of:

  • Childcare, including deposit and registration fees
  • A childcare ‘taster’ session (up to 5 days)
  • Keeping your childcare place over the summer holidays
  • Taking your child to the childcare provider

The childcare provider can be:

  • Childminder
  • Pre-school playgroup
  • Day nursery
  • Out of school club
  • All providers need to be registered with Ofsted.

You can get Care to Learn if:

  • You’re a parent under 20 at the start of your course
  • You’re the main carer for your child
  • You live in England
  • You’re either a British citizen or a national of a European Economic Area (EEA) country   
  • Your course qualifies
  • Your childcare provider qualifies

Your course:

Care to Learn is only available for courses in England that have some public funding. This includes courses that take place in:

  • Schools
  • School 6th forms
  • 6th form colleges
  • Other colleges and learning providers, including Foundation Learning
  • Your community at Children’s Centres

Your childcare:

To qualify, your childcare provider must be registered with Ofsted. If the child needs specialist childcare, the provider must also be on the Care Quality Commission’s register for specialist provision.

If you want a relative to get Care to Learn for looking after your child they also need to be both:

  • Providing registered childcare for children they’re not related to
  • Living apart from you and your child

Who can’t get Care to Learn:

You’re not eligible for Care to Learn if:

  • You’re an apprentice who gets a salary
  • You’re doing a higher education course at university

How to apply

Apply through the Learner Support Fund on 0800 121 8989

Main Student Finance

The Main Student Finance Package:

  • Tuition Fee Loan
  • Maintenance Loan - full-time students only
  • Maintenance Grant - full-time students only

Tuition Fee Loans pay for your course. Maintenance Loans and Grants help with living costs (For example accommodation, books, bills). You have to pay back loans but not grants.

You might get extra help on top of this.

You apply for student finance every year. You don’t need a confirmed place at university or college to apply.

How to apply:

Apply or support an application online (External link)

Other Help

Medical, social work and teacher training students

You can apply for:

NHS bursaries - medical, dentistry or healthcare students (External link)

Social Work Bursaries - social work students (External link)

Extra help for teacher training students (External link)

Disabled students

If you have a disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty, you can apply for:

Disabled Students’ Allowances (External link)

Access to Learning Fund (Extrenal link)

Special Support Grant

You must be a full-time student. Part-time and EU students can’t apply.

You may get a Special Support Grant instead of a Maintenance Grant if you get or qualify for Income Support or Housing Benefit. The amount you get is the same as the Maintenance Grant, but it won’t reduce the Maintenance Loan you can get.

You may get the Special Support Grant if, for example, you’re a lone parent or have certain disabilities.

How to apply:

Apply online on the GOV.UK website (External link)

Useful information

Student Finance (External link)

Information for student parents (External link)


Student Finance England - 0845 300 5090

Costs of childcare

It is up to each childcare provider to share their costs of childcare, they are under no legal obligation to publish this information. Most childcare providers in the area choose not to publish their childcare costs. You will need to contact your chosen childcare provider for details of costs.

A childcare costs survey is published each year by the Family and Childcare Trust, it is based on surveys from local authorities in England Scotland and Wales, which gives details of average costs of childcare across the various regions. You can see a copy of the survey under downloads.

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