Calls for reform of tax-free childcare

The amount of support parents can get from tax-free childcare needs to increase, a campaigner has told a Government committee.



The Government’s key childcare support policy – tax-free childcare – needs reform and the amount parents can claim back needs to double, a childcare campaigner has told the Education Select Committee this week.

Joeli Brierley from Pregnant Then Screwed told the Committee’s inquiry into support for childcare and the early years that the amount parents can get back from Government and the cap need to increase. Currently for every £8 parents pay into an online account, the government will add an extra £2, up to £2,000 per child per year. The cap hasn’t changed since 2017. Brierley wants to see the £2 double to £4 in every £8.

She also said there needs to be greater awareness of the policy. She said many parents don’t know what it is, think it is for children over three, don’t think they are eligible and are unaware it can be used for any Ofsted-registered childcare setting, including wraparound. She said information about it needs to be in places where parents go, not just on government websites, and suggested that childcare providers could be encouraged to tell parents about it.

She added that the tax-free childcare system is “clunky to navigate” and “frustrating” and said the eligibility criteria mean that some parents – students, trainees and those in a household where one person earns over £100,000 – are not eligible.

Parents, including self-employed parents, can register for Tax-Free Childcare through the Childcare Choices government website which gives information about the scheme. Parents who earn under £100k and the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the National Minimum or Living Wage each are eligible as long as they aren’t receiving Tax Credits, Universal Credit or the now suspended childcare voucher scheme. The scheme is open to children under 12 (or under 16 if they are disabled).

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