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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.

Free nursery education places for 2 year olds (Time for 2s)

Eligible families can claim 15 hours of free early learning or education for their two-year-old children starting the term after their second birthday. For more information on eligibility and to apply please visit or contact Luton Family Information Service.

Free nursery education places for 3 and 4 year olds

As part of the government’s aim to ensure every child gets the best start in life, all three and four year olds in Luton are entitled to 15 hours of FREE early education per week over 38 weeks starting the term after their 3rd birthday. This entitlement can also be stretched over more weeks as long as the total hours in a year do not exceed 570 hours.

Working Parents:

For information on eligibility or to apply for the following schemes please visit

Childcare Vouchers

This scheme involves you giving up a portion of your salary, which is paid to you in the form of Childcare vouchers or paid directly to the childcare provider. To join this scheme you have to formally (by a change to your employment contract) agree to a reduction in your salary and instead receive that amount in childcare vouchers.

30 hours free childcare

From September 2017 eligible families will be able to access an additional 15 funded hours per week; bringing their total funded hours to 30 hours per week or 1140 hours per year.

Tax Free Childcare

Working parents with children under 12 (under 17 for disabled children) can set up an online childcare account to pay their childcare providers directly. For every £8 parents pay in, the Government will add £2, up to a maximum contribution of £2,000 per child, per year (£4,000 per year for disabled children).

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:

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

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 

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 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

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 or  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 to check if you might be eligible.

Useful websites:

Childcare choices:

Help with childcare costs calculator:

Student Parents:

Turn 2 US:

Who to contact

Contact Name
Luton Family Information Service

Last updated 21/06/2017