Top tips for cost-friendly childcare

The cost of childcare is a major issue for millions of working mums across Britain. Trying to find a cost-effective solution that works not only for your child but for the whole family can seem like a momentous task. But the good news is that there is plenty of help and support available, so read on for a practical guide to finding cost-friendly childcare:

 

Funding towards childcare costs – what are the options?

There are lots of childcare funding options available for working mums who are trying to earn a living whilst caring for their family. Here’s what you need to know:

Currently, all three- and four-year-old children are eligible for 15 hours of free childcare per week during term tine and some two year olds are eligible as well. This has recently increased to 30 hours of free childcare per week during term-time for some three and four year olds. Couples where each member works the equivalent of at least 16 hours at the minimum wage and earns less than 100,000 pounds will be eligible for the full 30 hours of free childcare. If you wish to spread the hours out across the full year you will get 22 hours free childcare a week.

Working tax credits are available to support working parents on lower wages and include a childcare element designed to help cover the costs of childcare. These tax credits, which are being rolled up into Universal Credit, can pay up to 70% of your total childcare costs, making work a far more viable option.

Your employer may offer childcare vouchers where you can make savings through reducing the amount of tax and NI you pay on your childcare. It’s well worth speaking to your employer for more information about this. Childcare voucher schemes will not be available to new joiners after September 2018. This is because the Government is rolling out its tax-free childcare offer which is available to parents of children under 12. The Government says this 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. Parents cannot get tax-free childcare and tax credits at the same time.

Information on how to register for childcare support is available here.

Support from grandparents

Grandparents play a critical role in providing childcare, with one in four families relying on support from grandparents to look after their children. For many working mums, this is the best possible option – their children can be cared for in a homely, loving environment without the stresses of settling-in periods and major cost savings as well! Here are some useful points to consider if your children will be looked after by grandparents:

  • Start by having an open discussion about how much childcare is realistic for the grandparents to take on – it’s very important that they are comfortable with this.
  • Establish some ground rules – if grandparents are providing regular childcare then they will need to know how you manage behaviour and what you are comfortable with in terms of diet and treats.
  • If grandparents have to stop working because of childcare and are concerned about their entitlement to state pensions, there is a National Insurance Credit available that protects their basic state pension. More information is available on the gov.uk website.

Before and after school childcare

Once your children reach school age, the cost of childcare will naturally reduce – however you still need to consider how to manage before and after-school care to compliment your working day. Local childminders can be a good option for wrap-around childcare.

Many childminders offer discounts for siblings and you could send your children with pre-made drinks or snacks to further reduce costs. All childminders must be fully registered with OFSTED. You can find local childminders through word of mouth or via the following links: https://www.childcare.co.uk/find/Childminders or http://www.netmums.com/local-to-you/childcare/childminders.

Another option for managing childcare around the school day is before- and after-school clubs – your child can have fun with their friends and it’s amazing how many children genuinely love the idea of having their breakfast at school!

The costs of childcare can be daunting, but remember that there is plenty of help and support available. Try to choose childcare options that are convenient for your whole family as well as kind to your bank balance – juggling work and parenthood is challenging, so take every opportunity to make life a little easier when you can. Most of all, be proud of yourself for balancing a busy job, home and childcare – you are amazing!

 




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