14 Jul Clarity urged for childcare support
The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) is urging the government to provide better clarity for parents on the myriad of options for childcare support. The LITRG is concerned with the growing number of childcare options available that parents may make ill-informed decisions as to which scheme or combination of schemes to use. These schemes include tax credits, the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme (TFCS), universal credit, free childcare entitlement and childcare voucher.
One of the main concerns raised by the LITRG concerned how the increase in minimum income limits for both the extended provision of free childcare and the delayed TFCS will impact on the self-employed and those employed on zero-hours contracts. This was especially a concern for parents on low incomes.
Anthony Thomas, LITRG Chairman, said:
'It is crucial that complete guidance is available that not only explains the rules of each childcare scheme, but also gives sufficient information to help people to choose between them and make the right decision. This information should be updated as often as necessary. There should also be a dedicated phone service in place that can answer questions and provide support on the range of childcare options.'
At the same time the LITRG acknowledged their support for the government’s plans to extend free childcare to 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week and the introduction of the TFCS. The TFCS is expected to be launched in early 2017. The new scheme will eventually replace the current salary sacrifice scheme and will be open to all qualifying parents including the self-employed. The scheme will be worth up to £2,000 per child each year and will be available to children under 12.