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30 November is the date to remember for Spring childcare

Wednesday 8th November 2017

If you qualify for 30 hours' free childcare, make sure you apply as soon as possible - ideally before 30 November - so that you have your code in time for the start of the Spring term in January.

Although the deadline is 31 December, it can sometimes take a while to get a code if HMRC need more information to confirm your eligibility.

Reconfirming eligibility

Even if you received your 30 hour entitlement code this term, you still need to reconfirm your eligibility every three months.

This is because at the end of the validity period the code becomes ineligible if it is not renewed.

Parents will be reminded of this by a text or email from HMRC.

What is the 30 hours' free childcare offer?

From September 2017, working families of three- and four- year olds are entitled to an extra 15 hours of free childcare. This is on top of the existing 15 hours of free early education for all parents of three and four year olds and some two year olds. The 30 hours free childcare offer is worth around £5,000 per child.

We have produced a new webpage on eligibility for the new 30 hours free childcare offer.

Tax-free childcare scheme

If you get tax-free childcare, you'll also need to reconfirm your eligibility every three months.

In April, the government introduced the new tax-free childcare scheme  - cutting childcare costs for working families across the UK by up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for disabled children.

Initially the scheme is open only to families with a disabled child or to families with at least one child aged under four on 31/8/17. However, it will be rolled out to other families during 2017. 

Despite its name, this new system has nothing to do with the tax system. Instead, parents can open an online account, which they will use to pay for registered or approved childcare. For every £8 you pay into your child's account, the government will add a top up payment of £2.

Normally the maximum that the government will contribute is £2,000 per child per year, assuming you contribute £8,000. However, if a child is disabled, the maximum government contribution increases to £4,000 per year, assuming the parent contributes £16,000.

Warning! - If you access tax-free childcare, you cannot get any tax credits or Universal Credit. This means all of your tax credits/Universal Credit stops, and not just any payments you get towards childcare.

In most cases you will be better off getting tax credits or Universal Credit, so make sure you get advice before applying for tax-free childcare.

Find out more about your childcare options

The website https://childcare-support.tax.service.gov.uk/par/app/applynow allows parents to apply for the government's new childcare offers, as well as providing details of existing government childcare offers.

You can also read about the different options at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/