Your options with tax-free childcare

The government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme, operational since April 2017, is designed to help working families with their regular costs. Eligible parents can open an online account to pay for registered childcare. For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year or £4,000 for a disabled child.

Do you qualify?

You’re entitled to participate in the scheme if:

  • You earn on average at least £120 a week, but less than £100,000 per year
  • You are not receiving other support for childcare (eg Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit or company childcare vouchers)

If you or your partner are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave – or are unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities – you may still be eligible. The Tax-Free Childcare scheme can be used in conjunction with the free 15 and 30 hour schemes.

Payments are made from your online childcare account to registered childcare providers and will include both your payment and the government contribution. You’re able to check online for registered and approved childcare providers.

What are the other options?

Want more information?

The government has launched a website, Childcare Choices (, which advises parents on the help that is available. They have also provided a childcare calculator ( which provides you with an estimate of the financial support you may be able to receive.