Great Britain

Parents to get 30 hours free childcare until October even if their income has dropped due to coronavirus

PARENTS will be able to get 30 hours of free childcare and tax-free childcare until October even if their income has dropped due to coronavirus.

The schemes usually require working parents to earn at least the national minimum wage for 16 hours a week for the next three months to qualify.

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For example, it means someone above the age of 25 would have to earn at least £1,813.76 in three months.

But HMRC has today confirmed eligible parents whose income has fallen as a result of Covid-19 will now continue to receive support until October 31.

Key workers who exceed the maximum income threshold of £100,000 for the 2020/2021 tax year for the same reason will also still be eligible.

The 30 hours of free childcare are available to working parents in England with children who are three and four years old.

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In January alone, nearly 350,000 children benefited from 30 hours, according to the Department for Education (DfE).

Roughly 55,000 parents have also applied for the scheme since the start of lockdown restrictions, it added.

Meanwhile, the tax-free childcare scheme gives families a £2 government top-up for every £8 they pay into their child's childcare account.

Parents can get up to the value of £2,000 per child, or £4,000 per disabled child in financial support.

The money can be used towards the cost of qualifying childcare for a child up to the age of 11 or 17 for a disabled child.

What is the National Minimum Wage?

THE National Minimum Wage is currently the amount workers under 25 (but of school-leaving age) are entitled to.

The National Minimum Wage was re-branded to the National Living Wage in 2016 for those over 25.

Here's the latest National Minimum Wage as of April 2020 that are legally binding:

To receive tax-free childcare or 30 hours of free childcare, parents need to reconfirm their eligibility every three months.

This can be done on the GOV.UK website for both schemes.

If your income has dropped, you should apply or reconfirm as usual and HMRC may contact you for further evidence.

Sadly, if you're made redundant you won't be able to apply or reconfirm as you're no longer in work.

If you start employment again and expect to earn above the minimum income requirement after October, you can apply 31 days before you start your new job.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s deputy chief executive, said: "HMRC has been providing vital financial support to families during a time when it has been needed most and we will continue to help them as they gradually transition back to a normal life.

"We want to make sure families will not be adversely affected by any abrupt change in circumstances, which is why we have extended available support through tax-Free childcare to give families that extra boost.”

Vicky Ford, children's minister of DfE, said: "Our 30 hours childcare offer has always been about supporting parents back into work, and in these times, this ambition is now more important than ever.

"That is why we are again extending eligibility for the government’s childcare offers so that no parent loses out because of a fall in income due to coronavirus.

"This builds on our significant financial support for the early years sector – who are so integral to the UK’s recovery from this pandemic."

Nurseries were recently told to refund parents who paid for childcare they didn't use during the coronavirus lockdown.

Last year, almost 1.4million families were missing out on up to £2,000 a year tax-free childcare.

We explain ways to cut the cost of childcare - from discounts to community nurseries.

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