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Help with Childcare Costs

If you live in Hartlepool, don't let childcare costs put you off starting work, taking up voluntary opportunites or entering training/education. Depending on individual circumstances, help is available towards the cost of registered or approved childcare.


Hartlepool Borough Council

Civic Centre

Victoria Road


TS24 8AY

Paying for Childcare

Visit Help paying for childcare - GOV.UK ( which holds a wealth of helpful information for working parents, studying parents and parents living with children with disabilities. A key feature of the site is the Tax Credit Checker where parents can check their eligibility. 

  • Help available under current schemes
  • Universal Credit - Childcare Help for Working Parents
  • Childcare Element of Universal Credit
  • Tax-free Childcare - Top Up with help with childcare costs
  • Help towards childcare costs


30 Hours Free Childcare

Working parents of children aged 3 and 4 year olds could be entitled for up to 30 hours free childcare a week.

Working includes employed persons, self-employed persons, and parents on zero hours contracts who meet the criteria. 

A child qualifies for free childcare if they are resident in England and under compulsory school age:

  • Both parents are working (or the sole parent in a lone parent family) and each parent earns, on average:
  • A weekly minimum wage equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or national living wage and
  • Less than £100,000 per year. 

Families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will not usually be eligible. However the free childcare will be available where: 

Both parents are employed but one (or both parents) is temporarily away from the workplace on: 

  • Parental Leave
  • Maternity Leave
  • Paternity Leave
  • Adoption Leave
  • Statutory Sick Leave 
  • One parent is employed and one parent has substatial caring responsibilities based on sepcific benefits received for caring; or
  • One parent is employed and one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on specific benefits.

Eligibility codes issued to parents will typically have a 3 month validity period. Parents will be asked to reconfirm their eligibility on the GOV.UK website every 3 months, declaring any changes in their circumstances. 

The government has also introduced a 'Grace Period' so that if a parent's employment circumstances change they can retain their free childcare place for a set amount of time. This will:

  • Provide continuity for the child
  • Give parents the opportunity to regain employment; and
  • Give childcare providers certainty that if they offer a free childcare place, they will not risk having an empty place immediately following those changes in circumstances. 

30 hours free childcare can also be used alongside Tax Free Childcare.


Tax-Free Childcare

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've already registered, you can sign in to your childcare amount.

If you get Tax-Free Childcare, the government will pay £2 for every £8 you pay your childcare provider. This is paid via an online childcare account that you set up for your child. 

You can get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as 30 hours free childcare if you're eligible for both. 

What you can use Tax-Free Childcare for

You can get help paying for childcare if it’s provided by a:

  • registered childminder, nanny, playscheme, nursery or club
  • childminder or nanny with a registered childminder agency or childcare agency
  • registered school
  • home care worker working for a registered home care agency

This is known as ‘approved childcare’.

The rules about how childcare providers become approved are different depending on where you live.

You can check if a childcare provider is approved or search for one in:

Sign in to your childcare account

Sign in to your childcare account if you already get Tax-Free Childcare or 30 hours free childcare.

Childcare at school

You can only get help paying for care that is outside school hours, for example after school clubs or breakfast clubs.

You cannot get help paying for:

  • your child’s compulsory education
  • private lessons during school time (for example, private music lessons during school hours)

If your child has not started primary school, you can get help paying for childcare provided by a school. This includes nursery school fees.

Childcare provided by relatives

If you live in England or Scotland

You can only get help paying for childcare provided by a relative (for example a grandparent) if they’re a registered childminder and care for your child outside your home.

You cannot get help for childcare provided by your partner or paid for by the free early education and childcare scheme.

If you live in England and get 30 hours free childcare, you can pay the childcare provider using Universal Credit, tax credits or childcare vouchers.

If you live in Northern Ireland

You can only get help paying for childcare provided by a relative if all of the following apply:

  • they’re in a childcare approval scheme in Northern Ireland
  • they care for your child outside your home
  • they care for at least one other child that is not related to you

If you live in Wales

You can only get help paying for childcare provided by a relative if they’re a registered childminder and care for your child outside your home.

Foster carers

Childcare provided by a foster carer in England only counts if they’re registered as a childcare provider.

You may be able to claim if a foster carer provides childcare in WalesScotland or Northern Ireland.