Nursery and childcare funding

Tower Hamlets Family Information Service (FIS) provides up to date information for parents and carers looking for private and voluntary sector daycare for babies and young children aged up to five years old.

Nursery education funding

Nursery education funding (NEF) is paid to nursery education providers and covers the cost of part-time nursery education places for three and four year olds. It is paid for each two and a half hour session, with a maximum of five sessions in a week for 38 weeks per year.

Children are entitled to a free part-time nursery education place the term after their third birthday and the child must attend on the 'head count' date of each term to qualify. The grants need to be applied for directly by the nursery or playgroup providing nursery education for the child.

The child may be eligible for a free part-time place if they are attending an OFSTED registered childcare setting such as:

  • a playgroup
  • a local authority day nursery
  • a private sector day nursery
  • a voluntary sector day nursery

For more information, please contact the FIS using the details below.

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The childcare element of working tax credit

Working tax credit is a payment from the government to support working families on low income. If you have at least one child or are responsible for bringing up children and are paying for registered childcare, you may qualify for the childcare element of working tax credit.

The childcare element could pay up to 80 per cent of childcare costs depending on your individual circumstances. You should contact the tax credit helpline on 0845 300 3900 to see whether you could benefit from this scheme.

You can apply if:

  • you are a single parent working at least 16 hours a week
  • you are a couple where each of you works at least 16 hours a week or one of you is disabled
  • you pay for registered childcare: for example a registered childminder, a nursery or after-school club or holiday play scheme - please note that informal childcare such as friends or relatives will not be eligible

The childcare element can help with up to 80 per cent of your eligible childcare costs and there are limits on the weekly costs you can claim. If you pay childcare for:

  • one child - the maximum you can claim is £175 a week. You can claim up to 80 per cent of these costs (for example: £175 x 80 per cent = £140.00).
  • two or more children - the maximum is £300 a week. You can claim up to 80 per cent of these costs (for example: £300 x 80 per cent = £240.00).

For further information on working tax and childcare tax credits, please visit the Inland Revenue website or telephone them on 0845 300 3900.

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Childcare vouchers

Many employers now offer employees help to pay for childcare with childcare vouchers. Childcare vouchers are a way of paying for certain types of childcare. The employer gives you the option to take part of your salary, a ‘salary sacrifice’, in childcare vouchers. You will not have to pay tax or National Insurance Contributions on the first £55 per week or £243 per month.

As the vouchers are tax and NIC free, parents can make a saving if they pay for their childcare with vouchers rather than from the normal taxable pay. In order to receive childcare vouchers, your employer will need to be offering a scheme.

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Care to Learn

Care to Learn is funding for young parents under 20 years old to help with the cost of childcare whilst learning. Care to Learn pays up to £175 (in London) per child per week towards childcare and travel costs.

To qualify for Care to Learn you must:

  • live in England
  • you must be in, or considering starting, learning that has some public funding
  • be under 20 years old on the day your course or learning programme begins
  • care for your own child or children

Care to Learn can be claimed by either the child’s father or mother, as long the other parent is unable to provide childcare (because, for example, they are working) or the other parent is not claiming Childcare Tax Credit. If you have more than one child, you can get help for each of them.

Only childcare providers registered with Ofsted can be used. The FIS can help to find a registered childcare provider in your area.

The childcare provider will receive payment direct from Care to Learn. Any funding to help with travel costs will be paid directly to the learning or training provider, who will reimburse the parent.

Contact the helpline on 0800 121 8989.

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How to contact us

To find local childcare or for further information contact:

Tower Hamlets Family Information Service
2nd Floor, Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent E14 2BG

Tel: 020 7364 6495 – 24 hour answerphone

Email: fis@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Opening hours: 8.00am to 6.00pm from Monday to Friday.

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