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New ways to help you suss out childcare choices

It’s true childcare support is available - but finding what options are out there can be difficult. 

A new website - Childcare Choices - brings together all the government childcare offers in one place for the first time. The new website www.childcarechoices.gov.uk makes it easy to find what’s on offer and provides a simple way of seeing which schemes are available, with easy steps to where you can find out more. 

You can also use the Childcare Calculator to see what offers are available to support you and your family. As well as current schemes, this year two new options - Tax-Free Childcare and 30 Hours Free Childcare – are being introduced for parents of children aged  under four (on August 31) and parents of disabled children under 17.

To find out more about the new offers and how they can help you, go to childcarechoices.gov.uk.

Who can access Tax Free Childcare?

Tax Free Childcare is an online payment account, topped up by the Government, which parents use solely to pay their childcare costs. For every £8 that families pay in, the Government will make a top-up payment of £2, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year (or £4,000 for disabled children). 

Tax-Free Childcare will be available for children under 12 years old (under 17 years old for disabled children) and can be used to contribute towards nursery, childminder and after-school care. To be eligible, parents must be in work (including self-employment) and each earning at least £120 per week and not more than £100,000 per year. The offer will be introduced to parents with the youngest children first and gradually rolled out so that all parents will be able to apply by the end of 2017. 

Childcare providers must have signed up to be able to receive payments from Tax-Free Childcare. Parents can check which providers in their area are ready, using the online childcare provider checker.

Who can access 30 Hours Free Childcare?

30 hours childcare for three and four year olds will be available in England from September 2017. This doubles the existing 15 hours currently available and could save working families up to £5,000 a year. 

Parents will be able to check their eligibility using the online calculator and, if eligible, submit an application ahead of September. Once signed up, parents will receive an eligibility code to take to their childcare provider. Childcare providers will then check the code with their local authority. If eligible, parents can book their 30 hours place.