Childcare Costs

Reading Family Information Service

If you're returning to work, you'll need to think about the various factors affecting how much you can afford to pay for childcare, and what funding options are available. Visit for information on help available for childcare costs. 

Next review date May 2024

What is Employer-supported childcare?
  • Childcare Vouchers: These are provided to you by your employer (often through a childcare voucher company), and you can use these to pay for some of your childcare. Your childcare provider claims the value of these back from your employer or the voucher company. Childcare vouchers have been phased out from 2018.
  • Workplace childcare: This is nursery, after school or holiday care provided by your employer. It does not need to be on your work premises but your employer does need to fund it and manage it, wholly or partly for you to make savings. If your employer does offer this kind of childcare support, then any amount of your salary that you pay for workplace childcare will be free of tax or NIC.
  • Directly contracted childcare: When your employer pays some of your costs directly to your childcare provider.

The following schemes are closed to new applicants:

  • childcare vouchers
  • childcare your employer arranges with a provider (known as ‘directly contracted childcare’)

If you joined one of these schemes on or before 4 October 2018 you might be able to keep getting vouchers or directly contracted childcare. Please visit

For information on help available for childcare costs please visit

Tax Free Childcare

Visit or our advice and guidance page for more information Tax Free Childcare 

Can I get help through the childcare element of Working Tax Credit?

Tax credits are closed to new applications for the majority of people from 1 February 2019

How the scheme worked

If you are an existing tax credits customer you can claim back up to 70% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 16 (or under 17 for disabled children).

You can use tax credits for childcare to help pay:

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

Universal Credit is replacing a number of existing benefits, including tax credits. If you are already receiving tax credits, you don't need to do anything now. 

Information from

Can I get help through Universal Credit?

You, and any partner, must be working, or you’re due to start work, and are claiming Universal Credit.

Whether you can claim will depend on where you live and your personal circumstances.

How can I benefit?

You can claim back up to 85% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 17.

The most you can get back each month is:

  • £950.92 for one child
  • £1,630.15 for 2 or more children 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 helpline number Tel: 0800 328 5644  Universal Credit contact details

You may be able to get help to start work through the Flexible Support Fund. Contact Job Centre Plus and speak to your Job Coach, who will be able to advise you on eligibility.

What help is available for students towards Childcare Costs?

Financial help for childcare costs while you are studying is mainly available through your training provider - your college, university, training institution - or your local education authority. The type of funding you might qualify for will depend on what level of qualification you are studying towards and whether it is further or higher education. Childcare-Grant & Discretionary Learner Support & Care–to-Learn

Are we entitled to the FREE childcare / education funding?

All three and four year old children in England are entitled to the early years funding which is for 15hrs per week term time only (no more than 38 weeks per year). Children become entitled to this funding the term after their third birthday. The funding can be used at pre-schools, day nurseries and childminders who can accept the funding. For more information please use the following link Three & Four Year Old Funding

Some two year olds can access funding from the term after their second birthday, however this depends on whether the family is in receipt of certain benefits and or the child's circumstances. Again the funding can be used for pre-schools, day nurseries and childminders, however not all providers can accept the funding and you can check on the Reading Services Guide. Please use this link for more information Two Year Old Funding

To view a summary of the help available for childcare costs please visit the Government website.

Changes from April 2024 for working parents Childcare Choices - Changes to Childcare Support

How do I find out more about the 30 hours childcare?

Please visit to find out more about the funding and how to apply.

There is also our advice and guidance page where you will find comprehensive information.

3 & 4 Year Old Free Early Years Funding (including 30 Hours Childcare)

Changes from April 2024 for working parents Childcare Choices - Changes to Childcare Support

Working families - Charity for working parents and carers

Working Families is the UK’s national charity for working parents and carers. Our mission is to remove the barriers that people with caring responsibilities face in the workplace.

Provide free legal advice to parents and carers on their rights at work. Give employers the tools they need to support their people while creating a flexible, high-performing workforce. And we advocate on behalf of the UK’s 17.5 million working parents and carers, influencing policy through campaigns informed by ground breaking research.

Related Advice

2 Year Old Education & Childcare Funding 3 & 4 Year Old Universal 15 hours and 30 hours funding Tax-Free Childcare: Helping Working Parents Pay for Childcare Childcare Contracts and Complaints

Page last reviewed: 04/08/2023

Contact the Team

Family Information Service 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2

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Adult & Carers Support 0118 937 3747 0118 937 3747
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