Are you claiming your free childcare?


Two new schemes are helping working families to reduce their childcare bills but the onus is on you to register.

30-hours free childcare

The government has increased its free childcare hours for children aged 3 or 4, from 15 hours to 30 hours. This can be claimed from the term after the child turns 3 and is available for 38 weeks a year to tie in with school term dates. This doubling of free childcare is expected to encourage more people into work and benefit those workers.

This new scheme will save eligible families an average of £5000 a year in childcare costs up until the child starts school. Some 2 year olds are also eligible if their parents receive certain benefits. It's availble to families in England with alternative schemes running in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

To qualify for the free hours, parents must earn a minimum of the equivalent of 16 hours per week at national living or minimum wage (£120 for 25 year olds) and earn less than £100,000 a year. More information and to register.

Tax-free childcare scheme

If you are not currently enrolled in a workplace childcare vouchers scheme then the same eligibility (parents earning equivalent of 16 hours at minimum wage) allows you to open a childcare account where the government will pay £2 for every £8 you pay your childcare provider via an online account.
You can get up to £500 every 3 months (£2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. You can use it to pay for approved childcare and it is availble up to the 1st September after your child's 11th birthday.

Crucially this is also available to the self employed who could not previously access the childcare vouchers scheme.

Eligible parents with children under the age of 12,or under 17 for children with disabilities, can open a childcare account online with their National Insurance number and Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR).