Information for families in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Tax-Free Childcare

Tax-Free Childcare is a government scheme which helps families with childcare costs.  


Tax-Free Childcare is a government scheme for children aged 0 to 11 years or, up to 17 years if the child is disabled, that helps you save money on the cost of approved childcare.

For every £8 you pay your childcare provider, the government pays £2, up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 if your child is disabled.

For school age children, you can get help paying for childcare outside of school hours, such as breakfast and after school clubs, holiday schemes and childminders providing care before or after school or in school holidays ('wraparound childcare').

How does Tax-Free Childcare work?
  • if you're eligible for Tax-Free Childcare, you'll get an online childcare account
  • for every £8 you pay into the account, the government adds £2, up to the value of £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for disabled children
  • you can deposit money into your account by standing order, bank transfer or by using a debit card
  • you can track how much you've paid in and how much you've spent for each child

Visit Childcare Choices for information on how to use Tax-Free Childcare.


Eligibility for Tax-Free Childcare depends on:

  • whether you are working
  • how much you earn
  • your child’s age and circumstances
  • your nationality.

To continue getting the top up, you'll need to confirm your details are up to date every three months.

Visit GOV.UK for full details of eligibility critiera for Tax-Free Childcare.

Apply for Tax-Free Childcare

Visit GOV.UK to apply for Tax-Free Childcare.

If you're eligible you'll get an online childcare account. You and your partner cannot both have accounts for the same child.

Watch this video to find out more about how to apply.

Can Tax-Free Childcare be used with other schemes?

Tax-Free Childcare can't be used with Childcare Vouchers, Universal Credit or Tax Credits.

Which scheme you’re better off with will depend on your situation. Use the childcare calculator to work out which type of support is best for you.

If you're in receipt of Tax Credits you can choose not to apply for Tax-Free Childcare and retain your Tax Credits.

Find approved childcare providers

The Family Information Directory has details of childcare providers in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Visit the childcare page to search for providers including

  • nurseries
  • school nurseries
  • pre-schools
  • childminders
  • breakfast clubs,
  • after school clubs
  • holiday schemes.

Your chosen provider must have signed up to receive Tax-Free Childcare payments. Those who have already done this can be identified from the 'T.F.C Registered' logo on their directory record.

If you need help finding childcare or have any questions, contact the Family Information Service on 01202 093131 or email