Parents can pre-register from today for Tax-Free Childcare and the extension of free childcare for some three and four years olds.
The HMRC has launched a new Childcare Choices government website which gives information about the new schemes. Tax-Free Childcare will begin on 28 April for parents of the youngest children. It will be gradually rolled out over 2017. The government says it will cut childcare costs for working families across the UK by up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for disabled children, but the amount parents save will depend on how much they spend on childcare.
From September this year eligible parents of three and four year old children living in England will be able to apply for 30 hours of free childcare, worth around £5,000 per child. The extension will be available to parents who work over 16 hours a week – whether on an employed or self-employed basis – and earn the national minimum wage, but under £100,000 a year. The extension doubles what is available now in terms of free childcare, although critics say that underfunding of the offer could mean nurseries either won’t be able to afford to offer it or will have to put up their charges for the childcare they do charge for.
The Childcare Choices website includes a Childcare Calculator so parents can check what childcare support works best for their families.
The Government says two million working families will be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare. It will be gradually rolled out, with parents of children under two invited to enter the scheme first. By the end of the year, all eligible parents of children under 12 [17 if the child is disabled] will be able to receive government top-ups of £2 for every £8 they pay into their Tax-Free Childcare account.
Parents will be able to apply for Tax-Free Childcare and the 30 hours offer in one go through the government’s new digital childcare service.