childcare

From 2015-6 as many as 1.9 million working families could benefit from a tax-free childcare allowance worth up to £2,000 per child, ministers are to announce.

The scheme, which was outlined last year, is to be brought in sooner than expected and the maximum amount parents can claim will rise by £800.

The rise comes after recent reports that show the average family spends more a year on childcare than they do on their mortgage.

David Cameron says the move, which has been announced ahead of tomorrow’s Budget, will help ease families’ financial worries, although Labour said the added assistance was a case of “too little too late.”

The parties are making rival offers to help families deal with the spiralling cost of childcare, which the opposition says has risen by 30% since 2010.

At the moment, employees of participating companies can reduce their childcare costs through a tax-free voucher scheme, although only about 5% of UK employers and 450,000 families are signed up to it.

When the new scheme was first announced, the government proposed a maximum support of £1,200 per child but following a public consultation, this figure has risen significantly to £2,000. They have also extended it to all children under the age of 12 within the first year.

Parents will also be able to get a 20% rebate, per child, on the annual cost of childcare up to £10,000 a year.

Shadow minister Lucy Powell said:

“Of course any childcare support is welcome but this government has done nothing in this Parliament to help parents experiencing a cost-of-living crisis.

“David Cameron has cut support for children and families by £15bn since he came to office, and today he confirms that no help will arrive until after the election. This is too little, too late.”

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