Cliff House nursery

Many Lancashire families still missing out on help towards childcare costs

Lancashire County Council is encouraging parents to check their eligibility for a range of schemes that offer funded early education and help with childcare costs.

This includes those with a child turning two by the end of December 2023 who may be eligible for a funded place with a local nursery, pre-school or childminder in January 2024.

In addition, parents may be eligible for the following schemes:

-        Funded places of 15 hours for all 3 and 4-year-olds, rising to 30 hours for working families of 3 and 4-year-olds.

-        Working parents eligible for Universal Credit can claim back up to 85% of their childcare costs.

-        Tax Free Childcare via an online payment account, topped up 20% by the Government.

Sarah McGladrigan, Early Years Leader at Cliff House Nursery, Preston, talks about the benefits of early education. She said:

“We provide a fun, safe, and nurturing environment in which children thrive. Having a fantastic outdoor environment, where our children can plant and harvest their own vegetables; explore; play and have adventures, is integral to our approach in providing the best early years’ experience we can.

"What my team and I have witnessed is the enormous benefit 2-year-olds gain from accessing good quality education during those all-important formative years. Apart from being great fun, it promotes confidence and enhances speech and language development - skills which, in turn, underpin children’s ability to form friendships, enhance play and learning, along with key skills such as turn taking; negotiation; and sharing. “

County Councillor Jayne Rear, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said:

"Many families in Lancashire are still not taking advantage of a funded place for their 2-year-old with a high-quality education or childcare provider of their choice.

"There are so many benefits for children that access education from an early age, and we are fortunate in Lancashire that almost all of our childcare providers have been rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.   

"It can be confusing to know what childcare options are available to you, so our Family Information Service is on hand to provide advice and talk parents through the process.  They can be contacted on 0300 123 6712 or email

"There are more changes coming next year that will mean that many more families can benefit from a funded place for their children. From April 2024, working parents of 2-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of funded childcare and from September 2024, this will be extended to all children from the age of 9 months."

Parents can visit the council's website to view the criteria and check the eligibility for a 2-year-old funded place as well as find out more about help with childcare costs and funded places for 3 & 4-year-olds.

Notes to editors

Funded childcare places

Eligibility for the 2-year-old funding depends on individual family circumstances, and those eligible can currently claim a funded place from the term after their child's second birthday. See the childcare choices website for details of the upcoming changes to support with childcare costs which will benefit even more families.

Claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs        

 This offer applies if you are eligible for Universal Credit. You (and your partner if you live with them) will usually need to either be working (it does not matter how many hours you or your partner work) or have a job offer. Those eligible can claim up to £646 for one child and £1108 per month for two or more children. The support runs from birth to children under 16 (or under 17 and disabled) to help families on lower incomes to work. It can be used to meet the costs of before and after school clubs as well as nursery, pre-school and childminder costs.

Tax Free Childcare

Most working families are entitled to Tax Free Childcare via an online payment account, topped up by the Government, which parents must use solely to pay their childcare costs. For every £8 that families pay in, the Government will make a top-up payment of £2, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year (or £4,000 for disabled children). See for more details.