As part of our Summer Holidays Childcare Challenge, we look at the financial support for families.
Benefits you may be entitled to
You get Child Benefit if you’re responsible for one or more children under 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training).
Child Benefit rates: Eldest or only child £20.70 a week; additional children £13.70 a week per child
You may be able to claim Child Tax Credit if you’re responsible for children either: Aged 16 or under - you can claim up until August 31 after their 16th birthday
or under 20 and in eligible education or training.
All three to four-year-olds in England can get free early education or child care. Some two-year-olds are also eligible for 15 hours free child care, for example if you get certain benefits.
You can usually get 30 hours free childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are: In work - or getting parental leave, sick leave or annual leave.
Each earning at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week - £125.28 if you’re over 25. This earnings limit does not apply if you’re self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago.
Parents can apply for Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare
They can then both be used together, with Tax-Free Childcare payments applying to any additional childcare costs over and above the 30 hours support, throughout the year.
Both offers are available to self-employed parents.
Parents can find out what government help is available and apply online by visiting the Childcare Choices website www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.
It includes a Childcare Calculator (http://www.gov.uk/childcare-calculator) that compares all the government’s childcare offers to check what works best for individual families.
How Tax-Free Childcare works
Working parents can apply, through the childcare service, to open an online childcare account. For every £8 that families pay in, the government will make a top-up payment of an additional £2, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year (or £4,000 for disabled children). This top up is added instantly and parents can then send electronic payments directly to their child care providers. The maximum government top-up is £500 per quarter for each child, or £1,000 if the child is disabled.
All registered child care providers – whether nannies, nurseries, child minders or after school clubs – can sign up online now to receive parents’ payments through Tax-Free Childcare.
Parents need to sign back in every three months and confirm their details are up to date, to keep getting government top-ups.
Tax-Free Childcare is replacing ‘childcare vouchers’, which is only available to parents if their employer offers it. Employer-Supported Childcare will be closing to new entrants on October 4 2018, but parents who are already a member of a scheme will be able to remain in it as long as they remain with their employer and their employer continues to offer it. The tax and National Insurance exemption for workplace nurseries will remain in place. Parents moving from Employer-Supported Childcare to Tax-Free Childcare can still use childcare vouchers they’ve previously accrued.
How 30 hours free childcare works
30 hours free childcare is for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds who can get 30 hours a week of childcare for 38 weeks of the year, a total of 1,140 hours per year, which can be used flexibly with one or more childcare provider. Some childcare providers will allow parents to spread fewer hours over more weeks. This is a further 15 hours in addition to the universal entitlement for all 3 and 4 year olds.
Parents can take up a 30 hours place the term after their child turns three and the date they receive a 30 hours code, whichever is later. Parents should apply in good time to get their 30 hours code, they can apply up to 16 weeks before their child turns three. Parents already receiving the offer need to reconfirm they are eligible every three months.
For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/child-benefit
The Family Information Service provide a brokerage service by talking to childcare providers to find a childcare solution that meets the needs of a family. They can be contacted on 0300 123 6712.
Parents who are looking for childcare can do a search on the website http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/childcare to find providers in their local area, and access lots of information about the different types of childcare and support documents to help families know what to ask and things to think about.
Visit http://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk to find out what support can be accesses to make childcare more affordable, including tax credits for childcare, and tax free childcare.