Childcare Grant and Universal Credit
Child Care Grant
Paying for Childcare
Full-time higher education students in England who have children under the age of 15, or under 17 if they have special educational needs, could receive up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs if they are eligible for student finance.
The Childcare Grant is paid weekly into a Childcare Grant Payment Service account which your childcare provider will request payments from. You do not need to pay any money back, but any funds left over at the end of the academic year will be returned to Student Finance England.
How much can you get?
Depending on your household income and the number of children you have responsibility for, you can get 85% of childcare costs, up to a certain amount.
One child: up to £183.75 a week.
Two or more children: up to £315.03 a week
You will get either 85% of the costs or the fixed amount, whichever is less, and pay the remaining costs yourself.
How do you qualify?
To be eligible for the Childcare Grant, you must meet the following requirements:
Be a full-time student
Currently receive or be eligible for undergraduate student finance
Be a permanent resident in England
Have a child under 15, or 17 if they have special educational needs who are financially dependent on you
Your childcare provider must be registered with Ofsted (Heroes is Ofsted Registered)
You cannot get the Childcare Grant if:
You are claiming Tax-Free Childcare, the childcare element of working Tax Credit or Universal Credit
The NHS is helping you or your partner with childcare costs
Apply for Childcare Grant here.
To be eligible for Universal Credit, you must meet certain basic qualifying conditions applicable to most welfare benefits.
In addition you must not be in education – unless:
You are responsible for a child,
In addition, you (and your partner if you are making a ‘joint claim’) must not have capital of more than £16,000 and any earnings or income you have must not be too high for any universal credit to be paid.
To qualify for universal credit, you usually need to meet certain extensive work-related conditions, known as ‘requirements’. These are recorded in a ‘claimant commitment’. You are likely to incur sanctions (where your universal credit is reduced or cancelled) if you fail to meet a work-related requirement. But in certain circumstances none of the work-related requirements will apply to you and this could make studying and claiming universal credit possible. This will be the case if you:
are responsible for a child under the age of one; or are responsible for a child or qualifying young person and you are getting Student Finance as a full time student (but during the summer period you will need to meet work requirements).
If you, and any partner, are working, or you’re due to start work, and you’re claiming Universal Credit, you can claim back up to 85% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 16. You could get up to £646 a month for one child, or £1,108 for two or more.
You can use it to help pay:
Registered childminders, nurseries, and nannies
Registered after-school clubs and playschemes
Home careworkers working for a registered home care agency
Universal Credit is being phased in over the next few years. It will replace a number of existing benefits, including tax credits. If you are already receiving tax credits then you don't need to do anything now.
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You may be eligible for financial help towards the cost of childcare. Possible sources of help are explained in more detail in the following sections of this guide.
Childcare Grant from SFE - If you are a ‘home’ undergraduate with dependent children and you are a lone parent or have a partner on a low income, apply for help with your childcare costs from Student Finance England (SFE). You do not have to repay this money.
'Tax Free Childcare' If you're a working parent with children under 12 (or under 17 for disabled children), you can open an online account to pay for registered childcare. The government will top-up the money you pay into the account.
Universal Credit for Childcare - If you, and any partner, are working, or you’re due to start work, and you’re claiming Universal Credit, you can claim back up to 85% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 16. You could get up to £646 a month for one child, or £1,108 for two or more.
If you are already receiving tax credits then you may be able to continue to do so but no new claims can be made.
You can't claim Universal Credit, tax credits or Tax-Free Childcare at the same time. If you get the childcare grant from SFE you can't get the childcare element of UC or WTC on top.