HMRC have recently confirmed that the second phase of the roll-out of the new 30 hours free childcare has commenced.
Broadly, from September 2017, the new 30 hours free childcare offer for working parents of three and four year olds in England doubled the previous 15 hours of free childcare, saving eligible working families up to £5,000 a year. From 24 November 2017, the service will also be available to parents whose youngest child is under six or who has their sixth birthday on that day.
Eligible parents will be able to apply online via the Childcare Choices website. On registering, they receive a code, which in turn allows them to arrange their childcare place. Parents can take their code to their provider or council, along with their National Insurance Number and child’s date of birth. Their provider or council will check the code is authentic and allocate them a free childcare place.
Parents will be able to apply for tax-free childcare and the 30 hours offer in one go through the government’s digital childcare service. Eligible parents can benefit from both tax-free childcare and 30 hours free childcare at the same time.
According to HMRC, more than 275,000 parents have already opened childcare account. Of these, more than 216,000 parents received an eligibility code for 30 hours free childcare for September.
Over the coming months, HMRC will gradually open the childcare service to parents of older children, while continuing to make further improvements to the system. The gradual rollout helps HMRC manage the volume of applications going through the service, so parents should continue to receive a better experience and prompt eligibility responses when they apply – HMRC claim that almost all parents receive a response within five working days, and most get their decision instantly.
All eligible parents will be able to apply by the end of March 2018.