The Government have named the date for formally launching the Tax Free Childcare Programme as 28th April and parents can now start to calculate their own eligibility for this and the 30 hours funded entitlement from the government website. It’s important for them to do this as, subject to what they claim at the moment in Employer Vouchers, Tax Credits or Childcare Tax Credits, they may not be better off with Tax Free Childcare and depending on their circumstances and number of children will depend on what’s best for them. As providers we don’t want to be liable for giving them mis-information so please direct parents towards these pages.
A new Access page outlines Tax Free Childcare and the 30 hours offer with links to guidance and various pages to explain about this and other types of childcare support such as Universal Credit and Tax Credits. And the Childcare Choices web page has also been launched and a toolkit for providers to use.
Once parents have checked their eligibility they will receive an eligibility code that we will then need to check and get approved with our Local Authorities, many of whom are still looking at ways to integrate this into their current systems. The fact that these things have been left so late by central Government is just another example of the rush to get this manifesto promise pushed through without any thought of the administration requirements and real-life implementation. As providers we just need to hang on in there and wait to see how these systems develop and as is so often the case – just get on with it when the time comes.
Alongside the parent checker there is now also a search facility for childcare providers under the new Childcare Provider Checker webpage. Not signed up yet? Then you can register and apply here although you will need some specific information like your Unique Taxpayer Information or your National Insurance Number. If you’re not registered then you may lose a parent who wishes to use their TFC money with you.
I know many people still have great concerns about implementing the 30 hours, especially about making it sustainable. We’ve created our own Funding Losses Calculator in order to help you understand the scope of the problem you may face if you don’t take appropriate action. Just register or login to use it and then if you find you may have a potential loss make sure you get in touch with us so we can help. We continue with our Funding the Gap workshop across the country and you can Express your interest for this and we’ll let you know when we’re delivering near you.
About the author: Tricia Wellings