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?

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:

  • £116.77 per week - part time
  • £217.57 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? (UK average) How much does it cost? (London average)
Registered childminder (25 hours for a child under 2) £104.27 per week £148.12 per week
Day nursery (25 hours for a child under 2) £116.77 per week £158.73 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  

Source: Childminder and nursery costs from Family and Childcare Trust, 2016; Part-time nanny wages from Nannyplus.co.uk; Au pair pocket money rates from GOV.UK

Find the right childcare option for you with our guide to childcare options

Full-time childcare costs

Type of childcare How much does it cost? (UK average) How much does it cost? (London average)
Registered childminder (50 hours for a child under 2) £202.22 per week £286.48 per week
Day nursery (50 hours for a child under 2) £217.57 per week £302.17 per week
Live-in nanny (50 hours) £350 - £650 per week plus:
  • tax
  • National Insurance
  • room and board
£433 per week plus:
  • tax
  • National Insurance
  • room and board
Daily nanny (50 hours) £512 per week plus:
  • tax
  • National Insurance
  • room and board
£616 per week plus:
  • tax
  • National Insurance
  • room and board

Source: Childminder and nursery costs from Family and Childcare Trust, 2016

Find the right childcare option for you with our guide to childcare options

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 may 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.

Source: Netmums playgroup/pre-school costs

Find the right childcare option for you with our guide to childcare options

Stay-at-home parent

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. Here are some sites that could help you debate the pros and cons, Netmums, Babycentre, Mumsnet.

Help with childcare costs

You don’t need to be on a low income to get help with childcare costs.

You may be able to get help from:

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.

England

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. Find out more on GOV.UKopens in new window. The 25 areas are:

North West Stockport, Bolton, Trafford, Cheshire West and Chester, Bury
Midlands Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City, Walsall
South West Cornwall
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

Scotland

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 may also qualify if they receive certain benefits.

Wales

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 may be able to get free part-time childcare when your child is two.

Find out more about free early education in Wales from your local Family Information Service

Northern Ireland

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.

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