Tax-Free Childcare rollout continues

15 January 2018

Tax-Free Childcare is now open to parents whose youngest child is under 9, or who turned 9 on 15 January 2018.

The scheme will open to all remaining eligible families with children under 12 on 14 February 2018. This means all eligible parents will be able to apply for Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) before the end of this financial year.

Parents, including the self-employed, can apply online for Tax-Free Childcare by visiting the Childcare Choices website. Parents can also access the government’s childcare calculator through Childcare Choices, which helps parents to choose which government childcare support is best for them.

Since opening the childcare service, through which parents apply for 30 hours free childcare and Tax-Free Childcare, more than 325,000 customers have successfully applied and are now using the service.

You can read the full press release on GOV.UK.


CIPP comment

Government is currently debating the future of childcare vouchers (Employer Supported Childcare (ESC)) after an e-petition on the UK government and parliament website reached over 1,000 signatures, the point at which a parliamentary debate is required.

The petition was started in October last year as part of a campaign to retain childcare vouchers and has to date received 116,263 signatures. Petitions run for 6 months and this one is due to end on 18 March.

Parents will not be able to simultaneously receive support from both ESC and TFC. Parents who wish to remain in ESC will be able to, while their current employer continues to offer the voucher scheme. There is no obligation to switch to TFC, however, existing voucher schemes will be closed to new applicants from April 2018.

A number of organisations, including the charity Working Families and the Childcare Voucher Providers Association, have called on the government to keep childcare vouchers open to parents alongside the TFC scheme on the grounds that:

  • Childcare vouchers are widely-used and popular with parents and employers
  • Some families will lose out under tax-free childcare, compared to childcare vouchers
  • Vouchers provide a way for employers to demonstrate their commitment to supporting family-friendly working practices

The parliamentary debate is due to take place today (15 January); the Policy team will keep you informed of the outcome.

The House of Commons library has also produced a briefing paper ‘childcare vouchers and tax-free childcare - FAQs’ which provides an overview of the childcare vouchers and Tax-Free Childcare schemes and a comparison of their key features. It explores the ‘winners and losers’ under each scheme, considers how the schemes interact with welfare benefits, and outlines some other sources of help with childcare costs.