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Help with childcare costs

If you have children, you will know that sometimes paying for childcare can be expensive, however there is help available with the cost of registered childcare (childcare providers registered with Ofsted) including tax credits.

Funded hours for 2 year olds

The Time for 2s funded places are not available to every child, it does depend on which benefits or tax credits the family receives. To receive the funded places the family needs to be in receipt of one of the following benefits.

 

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers’ Allowance     
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance         
  • Universal Credit – if you and your partner (if applicable) have a combined income from work of less than £15,400 a year after tax
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999      
  • The Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Tax credits provided they have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190, as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

 

You are also entitled if the 2 year old child;

  • has a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education, health and care plan
  • gets Disability Living Allowance
  • has left care through special guardianship or an adoption or residence order (need copies of paperwork)
  • is a child of a Zambrano carer
  • is from a family with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • is a child of a subset of failed asylum seekers (supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

 

If you do meet any of the above criteria, you can apply online at www.luton.gov.uk/timefor2s  alternatively please contact Luton Family Information Service (FIS) on telephone number 01582 548888 as we can need to fill in an application form with you over the phone. Please note you will need your National Insurance number.

 

A child born between…

2 year funding could start

When to apply

1 January and 31 March

the April term after their 2nd birthday

from the second week of February before the funding starts

1 April and 31 August

the September term after their 2nd birthday

from the second week of July before the funding starts

1 September and 31 December

the January term after their 2nd birthday

from the second week of November before the funding starts

 

After your application has been completed, our partner the Early Years Alliance (EYA) will get in touch with your preferred childcare setting (if you have given one). Once they have a start date they will get in touch with you to confirm your place. If you have not specified a preferred setting EYA will contact you; and give you details of settings that can offer the funded places.

 

If your family is entitled to the 2 year funded places, this entitles the child to 15 hours free at some nurseries, pre schools, children’s centres and childminders. Once you have been awarded the funded places and your child has started at their childcare setting you will continue to receive the funded places even if your circumstances change.

 

Funded hours for 3 and 4 year old children.

Starting the term after your child's third birthday they are entitled to 15 hours free early education a week. To be funded by Luton Borough Council, children need to attend an early years setting in Luton, if your child attends a setting outside of Luton the funding will be provided by that Local Authority. Please see the table below to check when your child would be eligible for their funded hours.

 

A child born between…

3 and 4 year funding could start from

1 January and 31 March

the April term after their 3rd birthday

1 April and 31 August

the September term after their 3rd birthday

1 September and 31 December

the January term after their 3rd birthday

 

 

When your child starts with an early years provider will give you a parental declaration form to complete to access the funded hours for the next term. Please note that you do not need to pay anything to access the funded hours and can access only the funded hours without being pressured to take additional hours.

 

30 hours funded places – for 3 and 4 year old children

 

If you are a working parent, you could also be entitled to an additional 15 hours of free childcare per week; bringing the total up to 30 hours per week (in term time) or 1,140 hours per year for 3 and 4 year old children.

 

For more information on eligibility and to apply please visit www.luton.gov.uk/30hours

 

A child born between…

3 year funding could start

You must apply for 30 hours before…

1 January and 31 March

the April term after their 3rd  birthday

31 March. We recommend applying by end of February.

1 April and 31 August

the September term after their 3rd birthday

31 August. We recommend applying by end of July.

1 September and 31 December

the January term after their 3rd birthday

31 December. We recommend applying by end of November.

 

Tax-Free childcare

If you're a working parent with children under 12 years old (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 per year - 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 £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. You can't get Tax-Free Childcare if either you, or your partner, each individually expect to earn £100,000 or more.

Your tax credits will stop immediately if you successfully apply for Tax-Free Childcare. You will also have to cancel your Universal Credit and childcare vouchers. Before you apply, check if it's the right option for you.

For more information please visit https://www.gov.uk/tax-free-childcare

Studying Parents:

Care to Learn

If you are a parent and under 20 years old at the start of a publicly funded course (e.g. in school, or sixth form in schools or sixth forms colleges) the Care to Learn scheme can help pay for some of your childcare costs so that you can continue your education or training. For more information contact the Student Bursary Support Service:

Email: c2l@studentbursarysupport.co.uk
Telephone: 0800 121 8989
Textphone: 0800 917 6048
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Childcare Grant

If you are a full time higher education student with children under 15 years old (or 1 years old if they have a special educational need) and are entitled to Student Finance you might qualify for a childcare grant for up to 85% of your childcare costs. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/childcare-grant

Discretionary Learner Support Fund

If you are aged 20 or over and are attending a further education college studying on a course funded by the Skills Funding Agency, the Discretionary Learner Support Fund may be able to help you with a variety of costs, including childcare. To apply for this funding you will need to speak to your college student support team or welfare officer.  For further information about the Discretionary learner support fund visit https://www.gov.uk/discretionary-learner-support 

NHS bursary – Childcare Allowance

You might be able to get the Childcare Allowance from the NHS to help with your studying and living costs if you are studying a dental, medical or healthcare course, and are entitled to the NHS bursary and Dependants Allowance. How much you get will depend on your household income and you family circumstances. This allowance can be used to help pay for registered childcare if your child is under 15 years old (or under 17 years old if they have a special educational need) on the first day of the academic year. For more information on the NHS bursary visit https://www.gov.uk/nhs-bursaries for information on the childcare allowance please see the ‘Further information’ section.

Parent’s Learning Allowance

If you are a student from England with dependent children you may qualify for the Parents Learning Allowance if you are taking a full-time undergraduate course or an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course. How much you get depends on your household income, The allowance does not have to be paid back, is paid on top of your student finance and will not affect your benefits or tax credits. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/parents-learning-allowance/overview

Tax Credits:

There are two types of Tax Credits; Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. This document contains some general information about both types of Tax Credits, for the most up to date information you should visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits or www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/tax-credits.  Alternatively you can telephone the Tax Credit helpline on 0345 300 3900.

Child Tax Credits

You may be entitled to Child Tax Credit if you have children whether you are working or not. The amount you can claim will depend on; 

  • the number of children you have
  • your weekly childcare costs
  • your annual household income – this will include any other state benefits you may receive 

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit supports those that work and are on a low income by topping up your earnings and is based on the hours you work and are paid for. To claim Working Tax Credit, your paid work must be for at least four weeks. 

You can be employed or self-employed but unpaid work will not count when claiming tax credits.  You can claim help with childcare costs through the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit.

If you're responsible for children you need to be aged at least 16, and work the following hours to get Working Tax Credit: 

  • if you're single, you need to do paid work of at least 16 hours a week
  • if you're in a couple, your joint paid working hours need to be at least 24 a week, with one of you working at least 16 hours a week

The Childcare Element

The Childcare Element is intended to assist working parents with the cost of registered or approved childcare - you must be at least 16 years old to make a claim.

If you think you might be entitled to Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit you will need to make a claim by requesting a form from the Tax Credits helpline on 0345 300 3900. To get an application form you will need your National Insurance number and details on your household income for the last tax year; this runs from 6 April to the 5 April the next year and your weekly childcare costs. You can use an online calculator available at www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits to check if you might be eligible.

Useful websites:

Childcare choices: www.chilcarechoices.gov.uk

Help with childcare costs calculator: https://www.gov.uk/childcare-calculator

Student Parents: https://www.studentparents.org

Turn 2 US: https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Find-Benefits-Grants

Who to contact

Contact Name
Luton Family Information Service
Telephone
E-mail
fis@luton.gov.uk
Website
www.luton.gov.uk/fis

Last updated 21/10/2019