Families urged not to miss out on free childcare

Free early education and childcare places

Parents and carers in the borough of Hounslow are being urged not to miss out on a free early years education place for their child this autumn.  Free early education places can be accessed in day nurseries, pre-schools and with childminders.  A child’s early years are the foundation for their future development, providing a strong base for lifelong learning and learning abilities. If support is needed with finding a childcare place, parents and carers can contact the Family Information Service on 020 8583 3470 / 020 8583 6421 or email fis@hounslow.gov.uk 

NB Parents and carers should check if there are any additional charges before taking up the place. More information can be found here – www.hounslow.gov.uk/childcare

  • Do you need help to find a childcare provider for your child? Or maybe you have questions about sending your child to a day nursery, playgroup or childminder @LBofHounslow is here to help please call 020 8583 3470 or 020 8583 6421 or send an email to fis@hounslow.gov.uk
  • If you need help with childcare costs visit Childcare Choices. Here you can get information on the government’s free childcare schemes for two, three and four year olds, tax-free childcare, tax-credits and universal credits for childcare: www.childcarechoices.gov.uk @LBofHounslow
  • Early language development is critical for children’s future success.  Childcare providers are trained and skilled in ensuring each child’s language development is encouraged and supported. To search for your local childcare providers, visit www.hounslow.co.uk/fsd @LBofHounslow

Childcare Voucher Scheme Closes to New Parents

Pre-School Learning AllianceThe government’s childcare voucher scheme has closed to new applicants.
Originally due to close in April, the scheme was kept open to new applicants until 4 October after pressure from campaign groups.

Closed to new applicants
However, despite continued efforts to keep the scheme open, no new applicants will be now able to join.

Instead, parents will be able to sign up to the tax-free childcare scheme, which launched in April earlier this year.

Those who are already receiving childcare vouchers will be able to do so as long as they continue to be employed by a company signed up to the scheme.

Tax-free childcare
Tax-free childcare is available to all eligible parents, whereas childcare vouchers are only available to eligible parents whose employers are signed up to the scheme.

However, some parents say they will lose out under the tax-free childcare scheme.

The #SaveChildcareVouchers campaign has been calling for the scheme to remain open to new applicants since January 2017. It says it will keep putting pressure on the government to re-open the scheme to new entrants.

Parents offered compensation after Childcare Service technical issues

Pre-School Learning AllianceHMRC is offering some parents compensation after continuing problems with the government’s Childcare Service website.

The website has experienced several technical issues since its launch earlier this year. The problems have left a number of parents unable to access both tax-free childcare and the 30-hours offer, which are both managed through the website. Some parents are said to have been locked out of tax-free childcare accounts, while some have wrongly been told that they are not eligible for the 30-hours.

Providers have also experienced problems with the site, including a technical glitch that saw childminder data, including home addresses, wrongfully shared online.

Compensation claims
Parents may be eligible for a one-off top-up from the government if they have been:

  • unable to complete an application for tax-free childcare
  • unable to access a childcare account
  • left without a decision on whether they are eligible, without explanation, for more than 20 days.

For more, see Pre-School Learning Alliance.

Claiming Funding for 30 Hours

If a parent is experiencing problems with getting their code they should call HMRC on 0300 123 4097.

The parent will have to check their code every three months and will be reminded by HMRC to do this.

Hounslow Council will run a check every term to see which parents have failed to check their eligibility or have fallen out of eligibility.

When a parent is no longer eligible they fall into the ‘grace period’.

The grace period is used to describe the length of time the parent and childcare provider receives the entitlement until it is withdrawn.

The grace period end date is usually till the end of term that the parent becomes ineligible.

If a parent is sharing the funding between two providers then the parent must make it clear to both with whom the parent is taking the first 15 universal hours with and the extended 15 hours with.

Childcare Choices from September 2017

Childcare Choices Logo

Tax-Free Childcare
Tax Free Childcare is an online payment account, topped up by the Government, which parents use solely to pay their childcare costs. For every £8 that families pay in, the Government will make a top-up payment of £2, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year (or £4,000 for disabled children).

Tax-Free Childcare will be available for children under 12 years old (under 17 years old for disabled children) and can be used to contribute towards nursery, childminder and after-school care. To be eligible, parents must be in work (including self-employment) and each earning at least £120 per week and not more than £100,000 per year. The offer will be introduced to parents with the youngest children first and gradually rolled out so that all parents will be able to apply by the end of 2017.

We have signed up to this so that we can receive payments from Tax-Free Childcare. Parents need to register with the “Keep me updated” tool.

30 hours free childcare
30 hours childcare for three and four year olds will be available in England from September 2017. This doubles the existing 15 hours currently available and could save working families up to £5,000 a year.

Parents will be able to check their eligibility now using the online childcare calculator www.gov.uk/childcare-calculator and, if eligible, submit an online application ahead of September. Once signed up, parents will receive an eligibility code to take to their childcare provider. Childcare providers will then check the code with their local authority. If eligible, parents can book their 30 hours place.

Are you looking for support with childcare costs?

Childcare Choices brings together all the government childcare offers in one place for the first time. The new Childcare Choices website makes it easy to find out what’s on offer.

Use the Childcare Calculator at www.gov.uk/childcare-calculator to see what offers are available to support you and your family.

As well as current schemes, Childcare Choices introduces Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours – two new offers that are coming in 2017.

To find out more about the new and existing offers, and how they can help you, go to the Childcare Choices website today at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk


Funding for Under 2s

Some 2-year-olds in England can get free early education and childcare.

You must be getting one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit) and have an annual income not over £16,190
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Working Tax Credits and earn £16,190 a year or less

Children are also entitled to a place if: Continue reading