Advice for planning your Childcare (if the Government delay their 30 Hours Free Policy)

NurserySchoolNews broke in mid-October that the government’s pledge for 30 hours of free childcare a week is to be put on hold as peers voted that a full and comprehensive funding review needs to be carried out first. The amendment was discussed in the House of Lords on 14th October and found that there needs to be much further detail and comprehensive explanation of where the funding will come from before the new policy can be rolled out. This came shortly after leading think-tank IPPR found that the actual cost of doubling free childcare would be cost approximately £1bn more than the Treasury estimated.

With all these things to consider it is a worry for self-employed mums and dads, many of whom have already mapped out their childcare for 2016-17, including the 30 hour provision within their budget. There are ways and means for work at home parents to find funding for childcare and here we’re looking at what you could do, as it is very likely there will be a delay as a full funding evaluation requires time (and more money).

Children across England are currently eligible for 15 hours free childcare once they reach the age of three and this continues until they start full-time school. Some parents can also access this childcare for 2 year old children, if they meet certain benefit and income requirements. It is something worth checking if you’re not sure if you’re receiving the full allowance you’re entitled too.

In addition to the 15 hours parents can also access the Childcare Vouchers Scheme during the investigation into the 30 hours policy.  At present the Childcare Voucher scheme is of no interest to most self-employed parents as they are not eligible for it, as it is paid via an employer. Further to this the Childcare Voucher Scheme is actually ending in 2017 and the replacement, named by the government as Tax-Free Childcare is also under investigation as the government need to comprehensively state the details of this, after a legal challenge from two current childcare voucher providers.

The Tax-Free Childcare scheme, which should have launched in Autumn 2015, stated that every 80p you paid into your newly-opened ‘Childcare Account’ the government would add another 20p. A maximum of £2000 a year could be claimed and it is a scheme which should be open to all people in employment who work more than eight hours a week, including self-employed and work at home mums and dads.

Despite all these seemingly positive changes those working from home as sole traders or self-employed at this moment in time can only access the 15 hours of free childcare, any other childcare would have to be paid for but those who work from home for an employer may be able to investigate the old Childcare Voucher Scheme.