1. YOU WILL BE ABLE TO OPEN AN ONLINE ACCOUNT
You’ll be able to open an online account, which you can pay into to cover the cost of childcare with a registered provider. This will be done through the government website, GOV.UK.
You’ll be able to apply for all your children at the same time, when your youngest child becomes eligible. All eligible parents will be able to join the scheme by the end of 2017.
2. FOR EVERY £8 YOU OR SOMEONE ELSE PAYS IN, THE GOVERNMENT WILL TOP UP AN EXTRA £2
For every £8 parents pay in, the Government will add £2, up to a maximum contribution of £2,000 per child, per year (£4,000 per year for disabled children.
3. THE SCHEME WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR CHILDREN UP TO THE AGE OF 12
It will also be available for children with disabilities up to the age of 17, as their childcare costs can stay high throughout their teenage years.
4. THE CHILDCARE CHECKER
Using the Childcare Checker, parents will be able to find out which providers have signed up in their area. The scheme will gradually become available to different age groups from 28 April 2017 with all eligible parents being able to access the scheme by the end of 2017.
Parents who have registered with the ‘keep me updated’ tool will be notified when they become eligible.
5. ANY ELIGIBLE WORKING FAMILY CAN USE TAX-FREE CHILDCARE SCHEME - IT DOES NOT RELY ON EMPLOYERS OFFERING IT
Tax-Free Childcare doesn’t rely on employers offering the scheme, unlike the current scheme Employer-Supported Childcare.
Any working family can use Tax-Free Childcare, provided they meet the eligibility requirements.
6. THE SCHEME WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE FOR PARENTS WHO ARE SELF-EMPLOYED
Self-employed parents will be able to get support with childcare costs in Tax-Free Childcare, unlike the current scheme (Employer-Supported Childcare) which is not available to self-employed parents. To support newly self-employed parents, the government is introducing a ‘start-up’ period. During this, self-employed parents won’t have to earn the minimum income level.
The scheme will also be available to parents on paid sick leave and paid and unpaid statutory maternity, paternity and adoption leave.
7. IF YOU CURRENTLY RECEIVE EMPLOYER-SUPPORTED CHILDCARE THEN YOU CAN CONTINUE TO DO SO
You do not have to switch to Tax-Free Childcare if you do not wish to. Employer-Supported Childcare will continue to run. The current scheme will remain open to new entrants until April 2018, and parents already registered by this date will be able to continue using it for as long as their employer offers it.
However, Tax-Free Childcare will be open to more than twice as many parents as Employer-Supported Childcare.
Employers’ workplace nurseries won’t be affected by the introduction of Tax-Free Childcare.
8. PARENTS AND OTHERS CAN PAY MONEY INTO THEIR CHILDCARE ACCOUNT AS AND WHEN THEY LIKE
This gives you the flexibility to pay in more in some months, and less at other times. This means you can build up a balance in your account to use at times when you need more childcare than usual, for example, over the summer holidays.
It’s also not just the parents who can pay into the account - if grandparents, other family members or employers want to pay in, then they can.
9. THE PROCESS WILL BE AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE FOR PARENTS
The process will be light-touch and as easy as possible for you. For example, you’ll re-confirm your circumstances every three months via a simple online process; and there will be a simple log-in service where parents can view accounts for all of their children at once.
10. YOU WILL BE ABLE TO WITHDRAW MONEY FROM THE ACCOUNT IF YOU WANT TO
If your circumstances change or you no longer want to pay into the account, then you’ll be able to withdraw the money you have built up. If you do, the government will withdraw its corresponding contribution.
More information will become available ahead of the scheme being introduced so parents making childcare decisions are able to consider all their options.
11. CHILDCARE PROVIDERS
Childcare providers have a pivotal role in Tax-Free Childcare. They need to sign up so that parents can use Tax-Free Childcare to pay them; thousands have already done so.
To find out more about the new and existing offers, including the introduction of 30 Hours free childcare from September 2017 for eligible working parents and how they can help you, go to the Childcare Choices website at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk where you will find the childcare calculator to help you compare the government’s childcare offers and check what works best for your family.
12. WHAT ABOUT MOD PERSONNEL?
TO FIND OUT MORE, CONTACT YOUR LOCAL CHILDCARE PROVIDER.