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Tuesday 12th September 2017

Free and Tax Free childcare

Two new schemes that were announced earlier this year are beginning this month - free childcare for 3 and 4-year olds and the government’s new tax free childcare scheme.

Free childcare for 3 and 4-year olds

This scheme has been running for some years, but starting this month, the number of hours has been increased from 15 to 30 per week. While the original 15 hours are still available to all, there are some restrictions on the new additional 15 hours:

For the additional 15 hours, parents must:

  • be living in the UK
  • be employed or self employed
  • earn between £6,240 and £100,000 per year each

For 2 year olds, there is free childcare available to those on certain benefits – see the gov.uk website here

Tax free childcare

Despite the name, this scheme has nothing to do with tax! Parents can open a childcare account, and for every £8 paid in, the government will pay an additional £2. You can get up to £2,000 government top ups per child per year, or £4,000 for a disabled child.

This account can then be used to pay regulated childcare providers to look after children aged under 12, or 17 if they’re registered with a disability. Anyone can pay in to the account, so a grandparent or other family member could help out with childcare costs.

How to apply

For both schemes, you need to apply online at the gov.uk website here. Only one application is needed for both schemes. There’s also a useful website Childcare Choices, where you can answer a list of questions to see which schemes you’re eligible to use.