New scheme for tax free childcare

New tax incentives for childcare have been announced. To be eligible, families will have to have all parents in work, with each earning less than £150,000 a year and not already receiving support through Tax Credits or Universal Credit.

The relief will be 20% of the costs of childcare up to a total of childcare costs of £6,000 per child per year. The scheme will therefore be worth a maximum of £1,200 per child. The scheme will be phased in from autumn 2015. For the first year of operation, all children under five will be eligible and the scheme will build up over time to include children under 12. The current system of employer supported childcare will continue to be available for current members if they wish to remain in it or they can switch to the new scheme. Employer supported childcare will continue to be open to new joiners until the new scheme is available. The Government will consult on the detail of the new scheme but it is expected that parents will be able to open an online voucher account with a voucher provider and have their payments topped up by the Government. Parents will be able to use the vouchers for any Ofsted regulated childcare in England and the equivalent bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The existing system of employer supported childcare is offered by less than 5% of employers and used by around 450,000 families. It provides an income tax and national insurance contributions (NIC) relief. The maximum relief is an exemption from income tax and NIC on £55 a week. This relief is per employee so if both parents are in employment the maximum exemption is £110 per week. In the new scheme the limit is per child.