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Paying for Childcare

Paying for Childcare

Good quality childcare is usually expensive. Starting rates are around £195 - £300 a week for a full time nursery place or registered childminder for one child.

You may be eligible for financial help towards the cost of childcare. Possible sources of help are explained in more deatail in the following sections of this guide.

  • Childcare Grant from SFE - 

If you are a ‘home’ undergraduate with dependent children and you are a lone parent or have a partner on a low income, apply for help with your childcare costs from Student Finance England (SFE). You do not have to repay this money. Please note, if you have a partner the income thresholds for the CCG are lower than for the maintenance loan and grant. The amount you get depends on your household income.

The Childcare Grant can only pay for registered or approved childcare, which may not include childcare by nannies, au pairs and close relatives, even if registered as childminders.

The childcare grant helps with the cost of registered or approved childcare if you have at least one dependent child aged under 15 or under 17 and registered as having special educational needs, and in registered or approved childcare.

It pays 85% of your childcare costs, up to a maximum weekly grant of £164.70 for one child (85% of approximately £193.76 actual childcare costs), or £282.36 for two or more children (85% of £332.86 actual childcare costs). See

  • 'Tax Free Childcare' If you're a working parent with children under 12 (or under 17 for disabled children), you can open an online account to pay for registered childcare. The government will top-up the money you pay into the account. For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2. You can receive up to £2,000 per child - that's up to £500 every three months. If you have a disabled child, you can receive up to £4,000 per child - that's up to £1,000 every three months. You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £125 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, for deatails see                                                                                                                                                                     
  • Tax Credits for Childcare - If you are entitled to Working Tax Credit, and you and any partner are working at least 16 hours a week each, you can claim back up to 70% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 16 (or under 17 for disabled children). Depending on your income, you could get up to £122.50 a week for one child or £210 for two or more.

    You can use tax credits for childcare to help pay:

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


    How to claim tax credits

  • Universal Credit for Childcare - 

    If you, and any partner, are working, or you’re due to start work, and you’re claiming Universal Credit, you can claim back up to 85% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 16. 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 careworkers working for a registered home care agency

    Universal Credit is being phased in over the next few years. It will replace a number of existing benefits, including tax credits. Whether you can claim will depend on where you live and your personal circumstances.

    If you are already receiving tax credits then you don't need to do anything now.

    You can't claim Universal Credit, tax credits or Tax-Free Childcare at the same time.

  • Childcare vouchers - If your employer offers childcare vouchers or arranges your childcare, you can get up to £933 a year in tax and National Insurance savings.

    The amount you can get in childcare vouchers depends on how much you earn and when you joined the scheme. You pay for your childcare before tax and National Insurance deductions are made.

    You can’t use childcare vouchers at the same time as Tax-Free Childcare. Over time, Tax-Free Childcare will replace childcare vouchers and childcare arranged directly by your employer.

    Childcare vouchers will remain open to new joiners until October 2018. Parents already using childcare vouchers can continue to do so after this date, as long as the employer continues to offer them. The tax and National Insurance exemption for workplace nurseries will also continue.


Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.

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