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Saving on summer childcare costs

It might not feel like it in some parts of the country, with June 2019 on course to be one of the wettest on record, but the summer holidays are on their way.

For working parents of school-age children, that could mean a welcome chance to take a family break, but it also means having to find somewhere for the kids to go while they're out of school - and covering the costs.

That's understandably a worry for many people, with research by Coram Family and Childcare estimating holiday childcare in 2018 to cost around £133 a week - more than double the cost of term-time prices.

Parents of younger children also have rising childcare costs to contend with, with even a part-time nursery place costing £6,600 a year on average in 2019.

There are a few Government schemes available that may be able to help you cover the costs, so it's worth checking which you might be eligible for.

Tax-free childcare

With tax-free childcare, you can open an account and receive Government contributions on your savings to be put towards childcare costs with registered providers.

For every £8 you pay in, the Government contributes £2 up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year.

It's available for parents who earn between £125 per week and £100,000 a year, and for the childcare costs of children under 12.

For disabled children, the age limit is 17 and the maximum savings are £4,000 a year.

According to the latest government statistics from March 2019, only around 125,000 of the estimated 1.5 million families eligible for the scheme are using it.

Childcare vouchers

The discontinued childcare vouchers scheme is still available to parents who were already signed up when it closed in October 2018.

This allows you to take up to £55 of your wages for childcare purposes, without having to pay tax on it.

However, you'll lose access to the scheme if you don't order any new vouchers within 12 months, if you change employer (your entitlement to childcare vouchers remains if you transfer to a new employer under TUPE), or if you switch to tax-free childcare.

It may be worth considering whether this scheme or tax-free childcare is better suited to your circumstances.

30 hours' free childcare

As well as claiming tax-free childcare or childcare vouchers, parents in England may be eligible for up to 30 hours of free childcare for children aged three or four years old.

This offers up to 30 hours a week of free childcare with registered providers for 38 weeks of the year, so you get 1,140 hours a year in total.

Like tax-free childcare, it's available for working parents who earn between £125 per week and £100,000 per year.

You can apply online for a code to access the scheme up to 16 weeks before your child turns three. You'll then need to reconfirm your eligibility every three months.

There are different childcare schemes available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Contact us to discuss your personal finances.

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