Who Qualifies for Help With Childcare Costs?
People who work and pay for someone else to look after their child may be entitled to claim for financial help for childcare. You can start to claim as soon as you begin to pay for childcare, but cannot claim on behalf of anyone else. It is not possible to claim for childcare costs in advance. For example, if you and an ex-partner share childcare costs, you will only be able to claim the amount that actually comes out of your pocket.
Do I Have A Choice Of Childcare?Yes, as long as the childminder is approved or registered. Therefore as long as the nursery, childminder, foster carer, after-school club or nanny is registered or approved this will be deemed suitable and you can claim. However, the rules relating to approval and registration differ throughout the UK, so it is important that you ensure that your chosen childcare provider qualifies.
Minimum Working HoursIf you are a single parent, you need to work a minimum of 16 hours a week to qualify for help with childcare costs. If you are in a couple, both of you must work at least 16 hours per week, unless either one of you is claiming disability benefits, is in hospital, in prison or ill.
Sick LeaveIf you were working at least 16 hours per week before you went off sick, you can claim for help with childcare costs, for a period of up to 28 weeks of sick leave. You can also claim if you are receiving Employment and Support Allowance, National Insurance Credits due to a limited capacity for work, or Statutory Sick Pay.
You can also claim if you are on Maternity, Paternity or adoption leave, as long as you were working for a minimum of 16 hours per week before you went on leave. However, there are some restrictions: you can only claim on maternity leave if you are on ordinary maternity leave, or you get maternity allowance, or you’re in the first 13 weeks of additional maternity leave.
How Much Childcare Assistance Can I Get?The government will help you with up to 70% of the costs of your childcare, up to a maximum of £175 per week for one child, and £300 per week for two or more children. However, the amount that you will actually receive depends on the level of your income.
The most you can claim for your childcare through tax credits is £122.50 per week for one child, and £210 per week for two or more children. If the costs of your childcare go up by a minimum of £10 per week for four weeks in a row, you need to tell the Tax Credit Office as if all your circumstances remain the same, you may be able to claim more money. Similarly, if your costs reduce, you need to let them know to avoid overpayments and possible penalties.