Help with children's costs

You might be able to get help with children's cost when you have cancer.

Help with the cost of childcare

You might be able to get Tax Free Childcare, a certain amount of childcare hours or tax credits for childcare.

Tax Free Childcare

Tax Free Childcare helps with the cost of childcare, such as childminders, nannies, nurseries and after school clubs. Your childcare provider must be signed up to the scheme for you to benefit from Tax Free Childcare.

You qualify if you:

  • are a working family, including people who are self employed and you live in the UK (you might also qualify if you live in EU but work in UK and has started doing so before started before 1 January 2021))
  • earn less than £100,000 a year or an amount that equals at least 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage - the same goes for your partner, if you have one
  • don’t get Tax Credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers
  • have children aged 11 or younger, or up to the age of 17 if they are disabled

Free education and childcare for children age 2

You may be able to get free education and childcare if your child is 2 years old.

You qualify if you:

  • are a family in England, receiving certain benefits or in certain circumstances
  • have a child aged 2

15 hours a week free childcare or early education for 38 weeks (age 3 and 4)

If you have a child aged 3 or 4, you can get free childcare or early education for up to 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.

You qualify if you:

  • are a family in England (similar schemes are running in the other UK nations)
  • have a child aged 3 or 4

30 hours a week free childcare or early education for 38 weeks (age 3 and 4)

You may be able to get up to 30 hours of free childcare a week, depending on your income.

You qualify if you:

  • are a family in England
  • have a child aged 3 or 4 and their circumstances
  • you're working
  • your immigration status

Universal credit for childcare

Universal credit is a payment to help with living costs. It is replacing several other benefits, including Child Tax Credit.

You qualify if you:

  • are a working family claiming Universal Credit in the UK
  • have children under 17

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a payment for children with care needs or problems getting around.

Your child qualifies for DLA for children if they:

  • are under 16 - if over 16 they must apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • have problems walking or need looking after
  • live in England or Wales, a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland when you apply (exceptions include family members of the Armed Forces)
  • have lived in Great Britain for at least 6 of the last 12 months, if over 3 years old
  • are from another country and are living in a house for a period of time (habitually resident) in the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands
  • are not part of immigration control

If your child currently lives in Scotland, you need to apply for Child Disability Payment instead.

School and education costs

There is support available to help you with school and education costs.

Care to learn

Care to Learn is a scheme that can help with the cost of childcare while you study. It is available for publicly funded courses in England. The courses that are included are those in:

  • schools
  • sixth forms in schools
  • sixth form colleges

To qualify for Care to Learn, all of the following should apply to you. You have to:

  • be a parent under 20 at the start of your course
  • be the main carer for your child
  • live in England
  • be a British citizen or have a legal right to live and study in England
  • do a course that qualifies
  • use a childcare provider that qualifies (such as an Ofsted registered childminder or nursery)

Learner Support

Learner Support can help with costs if you are doing a further education course. It can help to pay for things like:

  • accommodation and travel
  • course materials and equipment
  • childcare - if you qualify

To qualify, you must be:

  • 19 or older
  • studying at an education centre (such as a college) funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ask your centre if they qualify)

To qualify for childcare costs, you must be 20 or older. You can apply for Care to Learn instead if you're 19.

Childcare grant

A childcare grant can help with the cost of childcare while you study. You don't have to pay it back.

To qualify for the grant, you must meet all of the following:

  • you're a full time student
  • your child must be under 15, or under 17 if they have special educational needs
  • you get undergraduate student finance based on your household income, or qualify for it
  • you’re not getting a Postgraduate Loan
  • you’re a permanent resident in England
  • the children in your grant application rely financially on you
  • your childcare provider is on the Ofsted Early Years Register or General Childcare Register
  • if your child has a carer at home, the carer can’t be a relative and must be registered (check with Student Finance England)
  • neither you or your partner are claiming Tax Free Childcare, the childcare part of working Tax Credit or Universal Credit
  • neither you or your partner get help with childcare costs from the National Health Service (NHS)

 A Childcare Grant isn’t the same as 15 or 30 hours of free childcare. You can’t use the grant to pay for those hours.

Where to get advice

You can get help and advice on benefits from the following people:

  • a hospital or community social worker - they can give you advice on benefits and help you deal with debts
  • a welfare rights adviser at a hospital
  • Citizens Advice - their advisers can help with filling out benefit forms
  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provide their service through Jobcentre Plus offices. They deal with benefits for people who are unemployed, or who can’t work because of a health condition or a disability

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Department of Communities (DfC) deals with benefits and pensions. For Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and Income Support in Northern Ireland, you need to contact your Jobs and Benefits office.

Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan Cancer Support provides support and guidance on how to deal with the financial impact of cancer.

You can contact their team of trained Welfare Rights Advisors (Monday-Friday 8am-8pm) or Financial Guides (Monday-Friday 8am-6pm) on 0808 808 0000.

More information

If you have school age children, you may also be able to get help with costs for school uniform, meals and transport. The help you can get depends on your individual situation and where you live in the UK.

Contact your local council for information on the help that might be available.

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