Childcare: all the schemes, how they work, how to apply –

Childcare costs are huge: the average family spends more than £6,000 a year on nurseries and childminders – more than double their spend on food and drink.

The average cost of a part-time childminder for a child under the age of two is £116.25 a week in Britain. But families in central London could expect to pay £154.08 in central London, according to the Family and Childcare Trust’s 2017 study.

A full-time place in nurseries for children of the same age is £222.36 a week or £290.73 in inner London.

Childcare is a significant chunk of the family budget and there are a number of government schemes designed to cut costs.

We’ve outlined how each works for parents in England (there are similar services available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and what the rules are when claiming.

15 hours free childcare

Every child aged three and four is entitled to 15 hours free childcare or early education each week with an approved provider, amounting to 570 hours a year.

When you can claim depends on the child’s birthday. Parents of children born between January 1 and March 31 can claim at the start of the new term on or after April 1.

Those who turn three between April 1 and August 31 are entitled to free childcare from September 1. Parents with children born between September 1 and December 31 can claim the free hours at the beginning of term on or after January 1.


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