Childcare support still available if incomes fall below the minimum threshold

27 October 2020

The Department for Education has advised that working parents who are placed on the Government’s coronavirus support schemes will still be eligible for childcare support even if their income falls below the minimum threshold requirement.

The 1 November sees the start of the new Job Support Scheme. Employees who are placed on this scheme will receive a reduction in their normal pay which could take them under the threshold to be eligible to receive childcare entitlements, which include the 30 free hours offer and eligibility to Tax-Free Childcare. The Government have confirmed that those that are affected by this will still be eligible to the schemes and that they will continue to receive such entitlements.

Newly published data has shown that more and more parents are returning to their formal childcare settings and are getting back to work following the impacts of the pandemic. Levels of attendance within most nurseries, preschools and childminders are now starting to climb back to pre-pandemic levels have been shown in official statistics.

Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said:

“This Government is increasing the safety net available to families, protecting working parents and our dedicated early years sector. This has been our constant priority, which is why I am so pleased to see attendance rates rising, as more parents return to work and take up the formal childcare arrangements they used before Covid-19 struck.

It’s testament to the hard work of early years professionals that these numbers are returning to what we would have seen before the pandemic.

We know challenges remain for many families, which is why we continue to protect parents’ eligibility for our free childcare offers so they retain this vital support.”

Within attendance data, it has been revealed that more parents are resuming their formal childcare settings, with attendance at early years settings now at 86% of pre-coronavirus daily levels. This is set to increase further as, data published in the latest parent survey undertaken by Ipsos MORI, showed that in September 94% of parents whose child received formal childcare before the pandemic were either using formal childcare now, or were planning to return their child to formal childcare if they could by January 2021.

It also showed that amongst those families who had returned to using formal childcare in September, 71% were at the same nursery, preschool or childminder as they were prior to the pandemic, while exactly half were using the same number of hours of formal childcare as previously. Only one in eight were using less hours, while more than one third (35%) had enhanced their hours of formal childcare.

Karl Khan, Director General HMRC Customer Service said:

“HMRC remains ready to help all customers as part of the government’s response to the pandemic, including those who benefit from Tax-Free Childcare.

We want everyone to get the money they are entitled to, and there’s a range of support available to help families with childcare costs. We’d encourage parents to check the Childcare Choices website to see which offers will work best for them.”

The Job Support Scheme and extension to Self-Employed Income Support Scheme have been introduced to replace the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will end on 31 October.

To be eligible for 30 hours free childcare and Tax-Free Childcare parents must work at least 16 hours per week at the national minimum wage. In response to the challenges faced by working parents throughout the pandemic, the Government previously announced in May, that those who were eligible prior to the pandemic, but now whose income had temporarily dropped as a direct result of the COVID-19, that they would continue to retain access to support through 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare.

The Department for Education provides 30 hours free childcare to eligible three and four year-olds in England and has seen 180,000 applications and around 430,000 reconfirmations for 30 hours places since March 2020 which demonstrates the importance of protecting parents’ eligibility.

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