Average childcare costs
The cost of childcare takes up a large chunk of the family budget. If you’re planning to return to work, it’s essential to budget carefully for your childcare costs and claim all the help that’s available.
- How much does childcare cost?
- Part-time childcare costs
- Full-time childcare costs
- Informal or free childcare
- Stay-at-home parent
- Help with childcare costs
How much does childcare cost?
Choosing the right childcare
Find the right childcare option for you with our guide to childcare options.
In Britain, the average cost of sending a child under two to nursery is:
- £116.25 per week - part time
- £222.36 per week - full time
The cost of childcare varies depending on the type of childcare and your location.
The tables below give you an idea of how much different childcare might cost on average if your children are too young to qualify for free early years education (England only).
Part-time childcare costs
|Type of childcare||How much does it cost? (British average)||How much does it cost? (London average)|
|Registered childminder (25 hours for a child under 2)||£109.84 per week||£147.02 per week|
|Day nursery (25 hours for a child under 2)||£116.25 per week||£148.16 per week|
|Part-time nanny (25 hours)||£237.50-£375 per week including tax and NI contributions|
|Au pair||‘Pocket money’ of around £70-£85 per week plus room and board|
Full-time childcare costs
|Type of childcare||How much does it cost? (Britain average)||How much does it cost? (London average)|
|Registered childminder (50 hours for a child under 2)||£212.86 per week||£275.83 per week|
|Day nursery (50 hours for a child under 2)||£222.36 per week||£277.84 per week|
|Live-in nanny (50 hours)||£350 - £650 per week plus:
||£433 per week plus:
|Daily nanny (50 hours)||£512 per week plus:
||£616 per week plus:
Source: Childminder and nursery costs from Family and Childcare Trust, 2017.
Informal or free childcare
|Type of childcare||How much does it cost?|
|Playgroup or pre-school||£5-£10 per 3-hour session|
|Sure Start Children’s Centre||Depends on your household income - some play sessions can be free|
|Nursery school||Free if it’s part of the state school system|
|Family arrangement||Can be free. But if you intend to pay a family member for childcare, you might not qualify for help with childcare costs.|
|Shared childcare arrangement||Technically free, but you’ll need to factor in loss of income, and you won’t get any government help.|
Whether you choose to work full time or part time or be a stay at home parent is a very personal decision.
There are a wide range of aspects to consider. One is the impact on income and costs both now and in the future.
Use our Budget planner to find out how childcare costs affect your income.
There’s help available when you have a baby, including benefits and grants from the government and your employer. So find out what you can claim.
Taking time off from a career can impact your future employment options and earning potential.
Help with childcare costs
You don’t need to be on a low income to get help with childcare costs.
You might be able to get help from:
- Your employer - in the form of childcare vouchers or direct payment for childcare
- The government - as the childcare element of Working Tax Credit, Universal Credit or the Tax-Free Childcare scheme (from 2017)
Free early education or childcare
All three and four-year-olds in the UK are entitled to some free early education or childcare.
How much you can get depends on where you live.
All three and four-year-olds can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare every year.
Most people take this as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks.
You can use these free hours at:
- Nurseries and nursery classes
- Playgroups and pre-schools
- Registered childminders
- Sure Start Children’s Centres
From September 2016, a pilot in some areas will extend this to 30 free hours a week.
This is available for families where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone-parent family), and each parent earns the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the national minimum or living wage, and earns less than £100,000 a year.
The 25 areas are:
|North West||Stockport, Bolton, Trafford, Cheshire West and Chester, Bury|
|Midlands||Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City, Walsall|
|South East||Hampshire, West Sussex, Medway, East Sussex, Brighton and Hove|
|London and East of England||Kingston and Richmond, Barking and Dagenham, Islington, Ealing, Hillingdon|
|North East and Yorkshire and the Humber||Gateshead, Bradford, Sheffield, Eastriding, Wakefield, North Yorkshire|
Three and four-year-olds can get 600 hours of free early learning and childcare every year. This works out at around 16 hours every week for 38 weeks.
Some families with two-year-olds might also qualify if they receive certain benefits.
Three and four-year-olds can get 10 hours of free early education a week for 38 weeks.
If you live in a Flying Start area you might be able to get free part-time childcare when your child is two.
Children are entitled to at least 12.5 hours of free pre-school education a week for 38 weeks in the year before they start Primary One.