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Tax Free Childcare

HMRC offer several schemes designed to give tax relief on childcare to most workers.

See later in this post for further government assistance with the costs of bringing up children.

Tax-free Childcare Scheme

This is the main current scheme to get tax relief on childcare costs.

Set up in April 2017 it was intended for workers who did not qualify for the Childcare voucher scheme (see below) which then closed to new members in October 2018

It is run online by HMRC and is child based. A parent needs to set up an account for each child and then pay for childcare from that account, to registered childcare providers e.g. babysitter, afterschool club, holiday camp etc

Money paid into that account by parents etc, is topped up by HMRC – for every £8 paid in HMRC will top up by £2, up to £2,000 per annum (£4,000 if disabled), per child. Anyone can pay in e.g. grandparents.

Conditions: –

  • Parents must be working – employed or self employed
  • Parents must each earn between £142pw and £100,000pa
  • Not available to those in receipt of tax credits or childcare vouchers
  • Child must be under age 12 (17 if disabled)

For more details see

Childcare Vouchers

A childcare voucher scheme is run by an employer and may still be open for those who were members in October 2018. It is member based and applies for all children of that member up to age 15 (16 if disabled), including children yet to be born.

Please refer to your employer for more details if you are still a member.

Workplace Nurseries

An employer may set up or book places in a registered communal workplace nursery for its employees, tax free. This nursery cannot be any anyone’s home and can be run by the employer or a third party.

Other Government Assistance for Children


Maternity/Paternity/Adoption leave & pay

If you are employed and expecting a child, then you may be eligible for parental leave and pay

  • Maternity paid leave – 6 weeks at 90% of usual pay

and a further 32 weeks at statutory rates

  • Maternity unpaid leave – up to 12 months
  • Paternity leave & pay – 2 weeks at statutory rates
  • Adoption – the primary adopter is entitled to leave and pay equivalent to maternity and a partner to Paternity leave & pay
  • Shared parental leave – partners can swap and change after the first 2 weeks, between who takes maternity leave

Maternity Allowance

If you are expecting a child but are not eligible for Maternity pay e.g. self-employed, then you may be entitled to maternity allowance direct form HMRC

  • Up to 39 weeks at statutory rates

Child benefit

  • Payable to someone responsible for the bring up a child – only one partner may claim
  • Until that child is 16, or 20 if in full time education
  • If you have more than one eligible child, then the sum received increases
  • Repayable if recipient or their partner earns over £50,000
  • Can register for child benefit but elect not to receive it e.g. if you know it will be repayable
  • Recipient gets credits towards state pensions etc while registered to receive child benefit

Free Childcare

Every child aged 3 to 4 in England, is eligible for 15 hours free pre-school childcare

In certain circumstances e.g. you are working, this may be increased to 30 hours


If in receipt of benefits, then your child aged 2 may also be entitled to free education & childcare.  see

Child Tax Credits

If you are on universal credit or claiming tax credits, then you could be entitled to more due to having kids

  • Sure start maternity Grant for first child or multiple birth
  • Child tax credits
  • Childcare tax credits
  • Increased working tax credits

Childcare Grant

  • Payable to students receiving student finance who have children under age 15 (17 if they have special needs)

Unpaid Leave

Employees ae entitled to time off to attend medical appointments and this includes maternity check-ups

Employees are entitled to time off to attend to emergencies in respect of dependent relatives and this includes children.

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