Free education and childcare for two year olds
If you receive one of the following benefits, your two year old can get free early education and childcare:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Universal Credit
- tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
- the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
- the Working Tax Credit four-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit).
The early education and childcare must be with an approved childcare provider.
You can get up to £500 every 3 months (£2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare.
If you get Tax-Free Childcare, the government will pay £2 for every £8 you pay your childcare provider via an online account.
You can use it to pay for approved childcare.
You can get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as 30 hours free childcare if you’re eligible for both.
Eligibility criteria does apply and you can find out more here.
If you get tax credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers
You cannot get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as claiming Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers.
Which scheme you’re better off with depends on your situation. The government have a useful childcare calculator to help you work out which type of support is best for you.
If you are employed, your employer may be able to help you with childcare costs using vouchers or other schemes such as an employee nursery. Have a chat with them to see what they can offer.
If you’re under 20 at the start of a publicly-funded course, such as school or sixth form college, you could get weekly childcare payments through Care to Learn
If you’re over 20 and in further education, you could apply for Discretionary Learner Support.
And if you are in full-time higher education, you can apply for a Childcare Grant if your child is under 15 (or under 17 if they have special needs).