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Below you will find out about the different types of childcare benefits available and their criteria.

Contact us

For more information about how to access help with childcare costs please contact the Family and Young People's Information Service:

PO Box 270
London EC2P 2EJ

020 7332 1002 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday)

Free nursery education for three and four year olds

The Government provides funding for free childcare places for children aged three and four. This is sometimes called 'Nursery Education Funding (NEF)' or the 'entitlement to free early years education'. Families can access up to 15 hours of free nursery education per week for 38 weeks a year.

Who can get it?

Every child is entitled to take up the nursery education offer from the term after their third birthday until the term after they turn five or they start primary school. ​

Is the NEF only for families on low incomes?

No, all children are eligible for the NEF regardless of family income.

Are there any rules or restrictions on how I can use the NEF

Yes, the 15 hours must be taken over a minimum of three days; and the childcare provider must look after your child for a minimum of two hours per day.

 Nursery education funding can be accessed:

  • at a school nursery
  • at a private, voluntary or independent setting
  • at a children's centre
  • through a child-minder who is registered with Ofsted and the local authority to receive nursery education funding.

When is my child eligible for nursery education funding?

Your child becomes eligible from the start of the term after they become three years old.

This means a child born between:

  • 1 September and 31 December is eligible from 1 January
  • 1 January and 31 March is eligible from 1 April
  • 1 April and 31 August is eligible from 1 September

Your free entitlement continues until the end of the term in which your child becomes five years old. This means that when your child starts in reception class, they will receive the remainder of their free entitlement at school.

How do I get it?

You can take up the NEF at any childcare provider that is Ofsted registered on the compulsory or early years register, and is approved by the local authority to offer the NEF. A full and up-to-date list of approved childcare providers in the City of London can be found on the Family Information Service Directory (FiSD) at You can also find out about additional ways to get help towards the cost of childcare.

Free childcare for two-year-olds

What is it?

Free childcare for two-year-olds is a Government scheme that provdes free childcare to two-year-olds whose families are on low incomes, or who are in care or have special needs. The offer funds up to 15 hours childcare a week in a nursery, pre-school or childminder for 38 weeks of the year.

Who is eligible?

The scheme is available to children whose families receive:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (if you are unable to work due to illness or disability)
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit and earn £16,190 or less per year
  • Working Tax Credit and earn £16,190 or less per year
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Or if the child:

  • Receives Disability Living Allowance
  • Has a current statement of special educational need or an Education, Health and Care plan
  • Has left care through special guardianship, adoption or residence order

How does it work?

Eligible children will be offered a place at the start of the school term following their second birthday. They can keep their place until the start of the school term following their third birthday. See the table below for starting times.

A child born on or between:​ Can start from:​
1 April and 31 August​ September (Autumn term)​
1 September and 31 December​ January (Spring term)​
1 January and 31 March​ April (Summer term)​

Where is it available?

If eligible you can take up you offer at any participating nursery, including those in other local authority areas. Contact FYi for more information. 

City of London Childcare Affordability Scheme

​Families living or working in the City of London with a combined income of less than £55,000 a year can access discounted places at some local nurseries. Both parents in a couple must be working. Only one parent needs to be working in the City if you don't live here.

There are currently four participating nurseries located in and around the Square Mile. If you are looking for childcare and think you might qualify contact the FYi service to find out more. You could save up to 30 percent.

Tax Credits

Tax credits are payments from the government you may qualify for if you are aged 16 or over and usually live in the United Kingdom. You may also qualify if you do not live in the UK but you need to check with HRMC.

There are two types of tax credits available to families:

Child Tax Credits

A Child Tax Credit is a payment to help support the costs of bringing up children still in Education. You can claim this credit if you are responsible for one or more child, the amount you receive is dependent on your household income.

For more details go to the Child Tax Credit website.

Working Tax Credits

Working Tax Credit is for people who are employed or self-employed who:

  • typically work 16 hours or more a week
  • are paid for that work, and
  • expect to work for at least four weeks

and who are:

  • aged 16 or over and responsible for at least one child, or
  • aged 16 or over and disabled, or
  • aged 25 or over and usually work at least 30 hours a week

Working Tax Credit is paid to the person who is working 16 hours or more a week. If couples are both working 16 hours or more a week a choice must be made as to which person will get it.

As part of Working Tax Credit you may be eligible for help towards the costs of childcare. If you receive the childcare element of Working Tax Credit, this will always be paid direct to the person who is mainly responsible for caring for children, alongside payments of Child Tax Credit.

For more details go to the Working Tax Credit website.

Am I eligible for Tax Credits?

Check if you qualify with the Tax credits calculator.

How to apply

To claim Tax Credits you have to fill in a claim form. You can only get a Tax Credits claim pack from the Tax Credit Helpline you cannot claim online.

Further information

  • For further information call the Tax Credit helpline on 0845 300 3900.
  • Visit their Tax credits website to find out morewebsite to find out more.
  • Tax credits are managed by HM Revenues & Customs.

Childcare vouchers

Childcare Voucher Scheme

Some employers provide childcare vouchers for their employees to help with their childcare costs. However these schemes closed to new joiners from 4 October 2018. Any existing users should refer to their scheme provider for information about the changes.

Tax Free Childcare Scheme

The government has introduced a Tax Free Childcare Scheme. For details go to:

Care to learn - childcare while you learn

​If you are a parent under 20 at the start of your course, Care to Learn can help pay for your childcare and related travel costs while you're learning.

Childcare grants

​If you're a full-time higher education student with dependent children, you may be able to get extra financial help. The Childcare Grant could cover as much as 85 per cent of your childcare costs during term time and holidays. If you're eligible, the amount you may get will depend on:

  • your household income
  • the cost of your childcare
  • the number of children you have