Parents are being urged to take advantage of the government’s childcare voucher scheme while they still can with the initiative scheduled to be closed to new entrants in early October.
The availability of the scheme was extended by a period of six months as of April and will now close on October 4th 2018, unless any further extensions are granted.
Childcare vouchers are designed to help parents manage their finances by allowing them to effectively pay for childcare before their income is subject to tax and national insurance.
Both parents are eligible for the scheme and it can result in savings worth close to a thousand pounds over the course a year.
In 2017, the government created a new tax-free childcare scheme with the aim of seeing it eventually replace childcare vouchers as the main mechanism for helping parents keep down the costs associated with childcare.
The new scheme works by having parents open up an account through which they pay for childcare, with the government contributing £2 for every £8 paid in up to a maximum of £2,000 per year.
Although both the childcare voucher scheme and its prospective replacement are designed to help families and single parents cope with the costs of having their children looked after, there are concerns that the new scheme will leave some people worse off.
The comparative advantages of the two schemes vary from case to case depending on income levels, employment status and whether both parents in a household are working or not.
But some people are convinced that the move to end the availability of the childcare voucher scheme will ultimately be financially damaging for many low-income parents around the country.
That is certainly the view of the Childcare Voucher Providers Association, which is lobbying the government to keep its childcare vouchers scheme open alongside its tax-free initiatives in order to create a “comprehensive package of support to working families”.
“We urge all parents that are considering joining the childcare voucher scheme to do so ahead of their relevant payroll deadline,” the association has said. “This varies for each employer but will typically be in August or early September for most.”
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