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Help with childcare costs

We know from our Knowsley Offer consultation that the cost of childcare can be a real challenge for many families in the borough. Especially those who may have more than one child under school age.

This is an issue that we know families across the UK are facing and we continue to lobby the Government to take steps to address this.

There are some schemes already in place to help, so make sure you are aware of what support you may be entitled to.

Free childcare places for 2 year olds

If your child is approaching their second birthday, they may be eligible for a free part-time place in a high quality childcare setting (nursery or childminder) from the term following their second birthday. Eligibility is dependent on your individual circumstances. Further information is available on the Council’s website.

30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds

If your child is, or will soon be 3 to 4 years old, you could be eligible for up to 30 hours of FREE childcare per week with an approved provider for 38 weeks of the year (school term time).

You can find out more on the Government’s website and apply online here.

Tax free childcare

You can get up to £500 every 3 months (up to £2,000 a year) for each of your children, to help with the costs of childcare. This goes up to £1,000 every 3 months if a child is disabled (up to £4,000 a year).

There is a step-by-step guide available on the Government’s website to check if you are eligible and how to claim.

If you set up an online childcare account, for every £8 you pay into this account, the Government will pay in £2 to use to pay your provider.

You can get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as 30 hours free childcare if you’re eligible for both.

You can find out more on the Government’s website.

Childcare support

A package of support was announced by the Chancellor on 15 March 2023 aimed at reducing childcare costs.  Current free childcare provision will be expanded and extended to children aged as young as nine months, or when maternity or paternity leave ends.

Under the current system, working parents with three- and four-year-olds in England are eligible for up to 30 hours of free childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year, during school term time which will now be extended to all working parents with children aged between nine months and four and introduced in stages.

From April 2024, parents of two-year-olds will be able to claim 15 hours per week, and from September 2024, parents of children from nine months old will be able to access the same childcare, with all children covered by the policy qualifying for 30 hours a week from September 2025.

Other changes include enabling those in receipt of Universal Credit to pay childcare fees upfront rather than in arrears, as well as a rise in the maximum amount people can claim for childcare costs (to £951 for one child and £1,630 for two children – an increase of around 50%).

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