Tax-Free Childcare: big rise in number of NI families taking up funding

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The number of families in Northern Ireland benefitting from government funding towards childcare costs has risen by more than 2,500 in the past year.

New figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) reveal that more than 9,800 families across Northern Ireland used the Tax-Free Childcare scheme in September 2022. Compared to September 2021, these latest statistics show this figure has increased by 2,575 families.

Overall, HMRC paid out £44.4 million in Tax-Free Childcare top-up payments to more than 401,300 families across the UK in September.

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However, HMRC says that thousands are still missing out on the top-up which could save them up to £2,000 a year per child towards the cost of their childcare.

More than 9,800 families in Northern Ireland saved on childcare costs in September 2022.More than 9,800 families in Northern Ireland saved on childcare costs in September 2022.
More than 9,800 families in Northern Ireland saved on childcare costs in September 2022.

Tax-Free Childcare provides working families, earning up to £100,000 a year, with financial help towards childcare. For every £8 paid into a Tax-Free Childcare online account, families will automatically receive an additional £2 from the UK Government. This means they can receive up to £500 every three months (£2,000 a year), or £1,000 (£4,000 a year) if their child is disabled.

The top-up payments can be used to pay for any approved childcare for children aged 11 or under, or up to 17 if the child has a disability whether your child goes to nursery, a child minder, has term- time wraparound care or goes to a holiday club.

Who could be eligible?

Families could be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare if they:

Have a child or children aged 11 or under. They stop being eligible on 1 September after their 11 th birthday. If their child has a disability, they may get up to £4,000 a year until they are 17. Earn, or expect to earn, at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week, on average. Each earn no more than £100,000 per annum. Do not receive tax credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers.

A full list of the eligibility criteria is available here.

How simple is it to set up a Tax-Free Childcare account?

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Opening an online Tax-Free Childcare account is straightforward and can take around 20 minutes to sign up. Accounts can be opened at any time, money can be deposited and used straight away or when it’s needed. Unused money in the account can be withdrawn at any time. Go to GOV.UK to register to get started.

Where can I find more information on childcare support?

The UK Government has launched an awareness raising advertising campaign to ensure families get the childcare support they are entitled to. Visit Childcare Choices to learn about the options and find out the best childcare offer for families.