Childcare Tips and Hints

For many of us, childcare is very expensive, but with careful planning, it’s possible to keep the cost down. Vouchers that are available from the Government can help with the cost of childcare.

Here are some options which could get you £1,000’s of well deserved help.

Age is just a number

Most of us think childcare is for babies or young infants, when in fact it includes all children of school age. If you’re paying for your 14-year old son or daughter to go to an after school or summer club, then you may be entitled to some childcare.

Free childcare

For all three or four year olds there are free ‘early learning’ classes available. Families of a low income may also be entitled to free classes for two year olds. If you’re currently paying for childcare you should check if you are entitled to these free classes. They are typically available at nurseries, pre-schools, and childminders. 

You are currently entitled to 15 hours a week for at least 38 weeks, adding up to a massive 570 hours per year. This can be used during school term time or over the entire year.

Grab your tax credits

The idea is to help working parents cover some of the costs of raising a child, so that you still have a little bit of cash leftover each month.

The average pay-out is around £60 per week, or over £3,000 a year. It’s worth checking if you are eligible as you could be missing out on a huge amount.

Childcare vouchers

These need to be offered by employers, but they could save you over £1,000 a year on childcare. It could be worth checking if your workplace offer these vouchers.

Most employers will work it on a salary sacrifice system.  This sounds confusing and a pain but can be an easy way for some free money. For example…

You give up £1,000 of your salary, which after tax and national insurance is worth about £700 in your pocket. You receive £1,000 of childcare vouchers meaning you’re £300 better off.

Help during summer

Holidays can often be a nightmare for parents, but it’s worth checking what’s on offer from your local council. There may be summer clubs running that could offer childcare.

It’s a good idea to contact schools, community centres and youth groups as there are usually many schemes on offer during school holidays. These can often work out to be a cheaper option.

Alternatives to childcare
  • Flexible working – Changing the way you work to reduce the hours you have to pay for.
  • Family and Friends – Do you know someone (other than the grandparents) who might be available to help out at times for a lower cost.
  • Community nurseries– Such as Sure Start Children’s centres, these are not-for-profit organisations that can work out cheaper and offer other free services as well.
  • Moving home – Although this might seem like a drastic step, moving closer to affordable childcare or relatives and away from an oversubscribed area could make it worth the move.

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