Tax-Free Childcare and 15 or 30 hours Free Childcare
Posted on 1st March 2018 at 18:18
Parents whose youngest child is under 12 can now get up to £2,000 a year towards their childcare costs through Tax-Free Childcare. Tax-Free Childcare is a new government scheme to help parents with the cost of childcare, allowing parents to work or work more, if they want to.
Parents can apply for Tax-Free Childcare online reducing their childcare costs by up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for disabled children. The scheme, launched in April 2017, has been gradually rolled out to parents, with all eligible parents now able to apply across the UK. The money can go towards a whole range of regulated childcare, whether nurseries, childminders, after-school clubs or holiday clubs.
If you're a working parent with children under 12 (or under 17 for disabled children), you can open an online account to pay for registered childcare. The government will top-up the money you pay into the account. For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2. You can receive up to £2,000 per child - that's up to £500 every three months. If you have a disabled child, you can receive up to £4,000 per child - that's up to £1,000 every three months.
You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £120 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible.
If either you, or your partner, expect to earn £100,000 or more, you can’t get Tax-Free Childcare. You can’t use Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as childcare vouchers, Universal Credit or tax credits.
You can use Tax-Free Childcare to help pay:
• Registered childminders, nurseries and nannies
• Registered after-school clubs and playschemes
• Registered schools
• Home careworkers working for a registered home care agency
You can use the Tax-Free Childcare with the 15 hours and 30 hours schemes.
Your childcare provider must be signed up to the scheme before you can pay them and benefit from Tax-Free Childcare. Check with your provider first to see if they’re signed up.
15 hours free childcare
• For all families in England
• With 3 and 4-year-old children
• 15 hours of free childcare or early education a week
You're entitled to 570 hours of free childcare a year, to use flexibly. From 1 January, 1 April or 1 September following your child's 3rd birthday.
30 hours free childcare
• For working families in England
• With 3 and 4-year-old children
• An extra 15 hours a week of free childcare - so 30 in all
• A total of 1,140 hours per year, that you can use flexibly with one or more childcare provider
If you are eligible, 30 hours is available for 38 weeks of the year (just like the existing 15 hours scheme). Some providers will allow you to ‘stretch’ your 30 hours entitlement over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week.
You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) the equivalent of working 16 hours a week at your national minimum wage (£120 at the National Living Wage, less if you are on the National Minimum Wage)
This earnings limit doesn’t apply if you’re self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago.
If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible.
You can't get 30 hours free childcare if you, or your partner, expect to earn £100,000 or more.
Your child can start in their childcare place the term after they turn 3 years old and have received a valid 30 hours code, whichever is later. Term start dates are 1st September, 1st January and 1st April.
You may get asked for further information as part of your application, so apply well ahead of the start date for each term.
To keep your 30 hours free childcare place you need to check your details are up to date every 3 months. 30 hours free childcare is available at participating:
• Full day care (e.g nurseries)
• Sessional providers (e.g. playgroups)
• Sure Start Children's Centres
• After school clubs
The 30 hours free childcare offer is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider.
The free early education and childcare:
• stops when your child starts in reception class (or reaches compulsory school age, if later)
Apply for Tax-Free Childcare and 30 Free Hours
You’ll need your details (and your partner’s, if you have one), including your:
• National Insurance number
• Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), if you’re self-employed
It takes 20 minutes to apply. You can apply here:
You can make a payment the day after you put money in your Tax Free Childcare Account. It usually takes 3 working days for the money to reach your provider’s account.
As part of your application, you’ll find out if you’re eligible for both Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare.
You’ll get a childcare account if your application is successful. You can use it to get your code for 30 hours free childcare.
How can I claim 15 free hours early education available to all families in England?
You will not be able to claim directly. Childcare providers who have agreed to follow the Local Code of Practice will be able to claim it on your behalf. These include pre school playgroups, day nurseries, nursery units of independent schools and childminders.
You can find details of childcare providers who offer free early education in your area here:
Tagged as: Tax-Free Childcare
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