The Savings: How to Get the Most Out of Your Childcare Budget

The Savings: How to Get the Most Out of Your Childcare Budget

Kids are expensive.

And childcare can be a big part of the cost.

You dream of quality, affordable care, somewhere safe where your child can benefit from educational activities while you provide for the family, but the price tag can make your eyes water.

But there is hope, mama!

Imagine thousands of pounds shaved off your yearly bill, up to 30 hours of childcare each week… the dream.

But that dream’s not so far away!

By visiting the Childcare Choices website, you can see all of the offers that the UK government has to help parents with childcare costs, making those childcare budgets that bit more wallet-friendly.

Because you can be a dedicated parent and pursue your career, without breaking the bank.

In this article: 📝

  • What are examples of childcare costs?
  • How much does childcare cost?
  • Tips to help afford childcare

What are examples of childcare costs?

First, let’s take a look at what we’re dealing with when it comes to childcare costs.

The main bulk of your childcare budget is, of course, for your childcare provider — whether that’s a childminder, nursery, after-school club, or playgroup.

But there are other costs to think about:

  • Supplies: Depending on their age, you’ll need to provide nappies, wipes, formula, and other supplies.
  • Food: Some childcare spots dish up tasty, nutritious meals and snacks, while others ask you to pack a lunchbox of your own.
  • Transport: Usually if your chosen childcare isn’t within walking distance. (Psst — if you’re on Universal Credit, Universal Credit Childcare can go towards this!)

How much does childcare cost?

So just how much are we talking here?

What’s the average cost of childcare for your babe?

Let’s break it down, with figures from the official Childcare and early years provider survey for 2023:

Average cost of childcare per hour

(The average hourly parent-paid fee charged by providers in England.)


Now bear in mind this is data from providers in England and costs will vary depending on where you are in the UK, but this should give you some idea of the kind of costs to bear in mind when planning your budget.

Tips to help afford childcare

Feeling like childcare costs are swallowing your budget whole?

We know, it can feel like a lot.

But there is help, mama.

The government support for working parents found on the Childcare Choices website is your secret weapon for reducing your childcare budget.

The Childcare Choices eligibility checker brings all of the available support into one place and can help parents understand at a glance what help they could get with the cost of childcare.

You might be surprised to see what you’re eligible for!

How much can you save with government support?

For working parents, there are a few other offers with Childcare Choices to help balance your childcare budget:

  • Parents who use the 30 hours offer for 3-4 year olds, for example, could save up to £6,000 per year. And with the expansion of this offer to include children from 9 months to school age, by September 2025, eligible working parents could save up to £6,500 per year with this entitlement.
  • Tax-Free Childcare: This one’s for kids of working parents from 0-11 years old (or up to 16 for disabled children) — saving you up to £2,000 per year on childcare costs — including wraparound care, so you can get childcare that fits around your work. Simply pay into an online account, and the government adds an extra £2 for every £8 you contribute.
  • Universal Credit Childcare: With Universal Credit Childcare, you can get up to 85% of your registered childcare costs paid back to you. Last year, the maximum amount you can claim back increased by nearly 50% to £951 for one child and £1,630 per month for two or more children. If you cannot pay that upfront cost, you might be able to get help with that too. (And you can combine this with 15 & 30 hours childcare, too!)

Want to find out how much you could save?

Enter your info into the childcare calculator to check how much you could get towards approved childcare.

Or use an independent benefits calculator to find out what you could get.

More about different types of childcare: The Juggle: Childcare Options for Working Parents

There’s no denying it — navigating childcare costs can be a challenge.

But remember, you’re not alone!

Visiting the Childcare Choices website can help, from up to 30 hours of childcare to Universal Credit Childcare and Tax-Free Childcare, there are options to fit your family.

So, stop battling budget anxieties and start exploring!

And if you want to talk to other mums crunching the numbers for their childcare budget, we’re having the conversation on Peanut.

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