The long-awaited tax-free childcare scheme launches on 28 April 2017 and will be rolled out during the course of the year. In conjunction with this, the government’s new Childcare Choices website is now operative, allowing parents to find out about available support. The website includes a childcare calculator for parents to compare all the government’s childcare offers and check what works best for their families, including the new 30-hour free childcare offer, tax-free childcare or universal credit. Through the website, parents can also pre-register for email alerts that will notify them when they can apply, as well as providing details of existing government childcare offers.
It is currently estimated that some 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 will be able to receive government top-ups of £2 for every £8 that a parent pays into their tax-free childcare account, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child (or £4,000 for disabled children). This will be open to all working parents across the UK with children under 12, or under 17 if disabled.
30 hours free childcare
From September 2017, the new 30 hours free childcare offer for working parents of three and four year olds in England will double the current 15 hours of free childcare currently available, saving eligible working families up to £5,000 a year.
Eligible parents will be able to apply online through the childcare service. They will receive a code – this will allow parents to arrange their childcare place ahead of September 2017. Parents can take their code to their provider or council, along with their National Insurance Number and child’s date of birth. Their provider or council will check the code is authentic and allocate them a free childcare place.
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. Eligible parents can benefit from both tax-free childcare and 30 hours free childcare at the same time.