Many working parents are not claiming government financial assistance with childcare costs e.g. Tax Free Childcare, Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit which will support them to remain in work. Most working families are eligible ...
Family Support NI have produced this animation to give parents an overview of the types of financial help available and practical guidance about how to access it
Help with Childcare Cost and Financial Support Video
Most working families in Northern Ireland will be entitled to financial support with their registered childcare costs, although there are some exceptions. You can only receive help with childcare costs that are being paid to a registered or approved childcare provider.
There are different types of help towards these childcare costs, with support available to working parents through the benefits system, Government support schemes or tax relief. The best form of help will be determined by your circumstances, such as whether you are working or self-employed, in a couple or single, and how much your childcare costs are.
There are different criteria in place that you must meet to be eligible to apply for the different forms of help towards your childcare costs.
You should read the criteria for each scheme or benefit carefully, as they may be different, but the most common criteria to qualify may specify:
You may not be entitled to help towards your childcare costs if you are already accessing support, and
You can find more information on the main forms of support with the cost of childcare below:
Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work, which merges together some of the old benefits and tax credits. Universal Credit has replaced income- based Job Seeker's Allowance, Income-related Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. If you are working, your Universal Credit payment can include an amount to help with the cost of childcare, equivalent to 85% of your registered childcare costs. However Universal Credit is a means tested benefit, so therefore the amount you receive each month will depend on various factors such as your income and any savings you may have, your outgoings on childcare and rent, the number of children you have an if there are any disabilities in the household.
Universal Credit Claimants :- Financial Assistance for Out of Schools Provision (at familysupportni.gov.uk)
Parents and carers could be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare if they:
Tax-Free Childcare is available to both employees and the self-employed
HMRC has produced an eligibility checker about the scheme
Each eligible child requires their own Tax-Free Childcare account. If families have more than one eligible child, they will need to register an account for each child. The UK Government top-up is then applied to deposits made for each child, not household.
Account holders must confirm their details are up to date every 3 months to continue receiving the government top-up.
Working Tax Credit is money provided to boost the income of working people who are on a low income and for eligible claimants can include an element towards your registered childcare costs. For new claimants this has now been replaced by Universal Credit
Childcare Vouchers are a scheme run through an employer’s payroll aimed at helping working parents with the cost of childcare. Parents ‘sacrifice’ part of their salary into the Childcare Voucher account and, as a result, save on their tax and National Insurance.
Childcare Vouchers are accepted by childcare providers across Northern Ireland and can be used to pay for all types of childcare as long as it is approved or registered.
This scheme was closed to new entrants on 4th October 2018, however, those that had already signed up prior to that date can continue to use it.
Parents who had joined the scheme before it closed, remain eligible provided they:
Government funding of childcare in Northern Ireland is different to the rest of the UK, and schemes such as the ‘30 hours free childcare’ scheme are not available here. However, parents of three and four-year-olds can get some help through the Pre-School Education Programme, which aims to ensure children receive quality early years education and to encourage their social, physical and mental development while helping them to prepare for school (Primary One).
For more information see here :-
To apply for a pre-school education place, go to :
The main forms of support with the cost of childcare are outlined below. The amount of financial support you may be entitled to receive on each of those schemes will depend on your circumstances and it can be complicated working out what is best for you. It is therefore important to contact a Family Benefits Advisor, who will help you work out the most beneficial source of support for your family.
Employers For Childcare Family Benefits Advice Service - provides free, confidential and impartial advice setting out your best options for support, and what is the best choice for your family depending on your specific circumstances. The Advisors are available on Freephone 0800 028 3008 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . Last year, the team identified an average of £2,800 in financial support for parents who asked for a personal ‘better off’ calculation and over the last five years has helped families to access £54.5 million in financial support.
HMRC Childcare Choices - this is the government website that shows the different types of help there is available towards your childcare costs (not all available in Northern Ireland).
Financial help if you have children - a list of all the different benefits you may be able to claim depending on your circumstances
Childcare Costs Calculator - an online calculator which will work out how much money you could get towards registered or approved childcare
Registered Childcare is beneficial for many reasons, including financial assistance with childcare costs. These are outlined in this short animation
Benefits of Registered Childcare Video
If you are unemployed and facing financial barriers to starting or returning to work or if you’re in employment or self-employment and also face financial difficulties, your local Jobs and Benefits office may be able to help you through the Adviser Discretion Fund (ADF).
If you are a childcare provider or childminder, you can boost your business and help reduce cost for working families by activating your Tax-Free Childcare Account to make sure families can access government support when using your services.
If you are already registered and haven’t received your invitation letter, you should contact the Childcare Service Helpline : 0300 123 4097