The Tax-Free Childcare Scheme (TFCS) was launched in April 2017 to the first tranche of working parents. The scheme was initially made available to working parents of children aged under 4 on 31 August 2017. On 15 January 2018, the scheme was extended to parents whose youngest child is under 9. The scheme was opened to all remaining eligible families with children under 12 on 14 February 2018.
The TFCS helps support working families with their childcare costs. The scheme provides for a government top-up on parental contributions. For every 80p in the £1 contributed by parents an additional 20p or 20% will be funded by Government up to a maximum total of £10,000 per child per year. This will give parents an annual savings of up to £2,000 per child (and up to £4,000 for disabled children until the age of 17) in childcare costs.
The scheme is open to all qualifying parents including the self-employed and those on a minimum wage. The scheme is also available to parents on paid sick leave as well as those on paid and unpaid statutory maternity, paternity and adoption leave. In order to be eligible to use the scheme parents will have to be in work at least 16 hours per week and earn at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage. If either parent earns more than £100,000, both parents are unable to use the scheme.
Elizabeth Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:
‘All eligible parents with children under 12 can now apply through Childcare Choices and should take advantage of the available support.’