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Significant Childcare Funding Announced for Families

Significant New Childcare Funding Announced for Families.

A Guide to the Game-Changing Childcare Funding Initiatives Announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget 2023

Generous and far-reaching childcare funding reforms were announced in the Spring Budget 2023 last month. The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s new funding plans should give more parents, including those of even younger children, access to significant help with childcare costs going forwards. The new initiatives will:

  • allow Generous childcare funding was announced in the Spring Budget 2023, giving more parents, including those of even younger children, access to significant help with childcare costs.parents to return to the workplace sooner after the birth of their child if they so choose;
  • help fill vacant jobs in the workplace;
  • allow parents (particularly women) to progress their careers sooner after starting a family;
  • help to boost the UK economy, and;
  • perhaps most importantly give more children access to a good early years education, starting potentially at a younger age. Beginning no later than the age of 2 has been shown to better prepare children for the transition to school, boost children’s education overall, improve GCSE grades, improve career prospects and even increase earning potential once they reach adulthood. Learn more about the benefits of a good early years education here.

So, the new childcare funding should make a huge difference for those families that are eligible. Let’s take a look at the 3 key childcare funding initiatives announced…

Significant New Childcare Funding for Children Aged 9 to 36 Months

Many parents will already be aware of the existing, free, Government-funded childcare hours available to all 3 and 4-year-olds in England (plus some disadvantaged 2-year-olds). Well, in the biggest news from the Spring Budget, free childcare funding will soon extend to much younger children, aged from just 9 months of age if they suit eligibility requirements. Here’s how the free childcare will be rolled out:

  1. From April 2024,Significant new childcare funding has been announced for children aged from 9 to 36 months. children aged 2 from eligible working families will be able to claim 570 hours of free childcare each year. This is typically taken as 15 hours of free childcare each week over 38 weeks, although exactly how it’s taken may be agreed otherwise between the family and the childcare provider.
  2. From September 2024, just five months later, the same free childcare scheme will be extended to eligible children aged from just 9 months of age. This comes later so that childcare providers have time to adapt to the extra capacity.
  3. A year later, from September 2025, eligible children aged from 9 to 36 months will be able to claim double the amount of free childcare hours, taking their annual free childcare allowance up to 1140 hours. These will typically be taken as 30 free hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, but it may vary if childcare providers can offer flexibility.

In each case, eligibility for children aged from 9 to 36 months will use the same criteria as for those 3- and 4-year-olds receiving 30 hours of free childcare for 38 weeks of the year in the existing scheme. That scheme will continue to run too, meaning that children from 9 months to the age of four (inclusive) are all supported, right up until they start school. It should make a huge difference to working families and particularly benefit women, who have commonly found it difficult to return to careers following maternity leave.

Significant Improvements to Childcare Funded Through Universal Credit

Significant improvements have been unveiled for childcare funding through Universal Credit.Until now, 87% of those eligible to claim childcare support through Universal Credit were not doing so. One of the main reasons for this was that it’s geared towards low-income families yet required them to pay childcare fees in advance — and later claim them back. Paying in advance is not so easy when household income is low, as is typically the case for households that would otherwise be eligible. For this reason, another of the Chancellor’s initiatives announced in the Spring Budget 2023 is to roll out the following improvements:

  1. The Government will pay for childcare costs, subsidised through Universal Credit, in advance and;
  2. They will increase the amount eligible families can claim in childcare costs, through Universal Credit, by almost 50%. This will increase the amount of free childcare funding available through the scheme from £646 to £951 per month for a single child, and from £1,108 to £1,630 per month for two children. The increase will take effect from July 2023 and the rates paid may be linked to the Consumer Price Index until 2027/28.

The two measures combined should make a tangible difference to cash-strapped parents who would like to get back into the workplace, increase existing working hours, or boost household income. It will also mean, of course, that more children have access to an all-important early years education.

Significant Improvements to Funded Childcare Hours for Children at School

The Wraparound ‘Pathfinder’ Scheme

The Wraparound Pathfinder Scheme would fund childcare hours from 8 am until the start of the school and up to 6 pm after the school day ends.The final childcare-related initiative in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget aims to fix another key problem for parents: how to juggle their own longer working hours with their child’s shorter school hours. When a child attends school, they often finish their school day several hours before their parent is finished at work, for example. There is therefore a childcare requirement to bridge the gap and this may be required both at the start and end of the child’s school day. In view of this, the Chancellor announced the piloting of a new Wraparound Pathfinder Scheme, which would fund childcare hours from 8 am until the start of the school morning and, later in the day, fund childcare for the mismatched afternoon hours up to 6 pm. The pilot will test the scheme to see how well it works. If successful, the Chancellor aims to roll it out to the whole of the UK from September 2024.

A Good Early Years Education at Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Little Acorns Nursery is an outstanding nursery and, with its incredible national award for childcare, offers babies and children possibly the best childcare provision available in Lancashire. So, if you are looking for the best nursery or preschool for your baby, toddler or child under five in Clayton, Chorley or Central Lancashire, please get in touch. We support all Government childcare funding and free childcare hours for eligible families and are a Forest School setting too. We’d love to show you and your little one around, register your child for a place or answer any questions that you may have. Please select an option below to take the next step and we’ll be happy to help.

Little Acorns Nursery is a high-quality nursery and preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, near Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

Are You Due £2,000 in Help for Childcare? Rough Guide to Tax-Free Childcare

Each year, around 1 million families miss out on thousands of pounds in free childcare funding, despite being eligibleEach year, around 1 million families miss out on thousands of pounds in free childcare funding — despite being eligible through the Government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme. Are you one of them?

In today’s guide, we take a look at Tax-Free Childcare, which could effectively contribute anywhere from £2,000 to £4,000 per child, per year, towards childcare costs for eligible families. Those are significant sums, which could really help families, especially with the rising cost of living. The funding is there for for the taking if you’re eligible So, don’t miss out!

Let’s take a look.

What is Tax-Free Childcare?

In effect, the Tax-Free Childcare scheme subsidises childcare costs by utilising the tax that eligible families would ordinarily have pre-paid on the taxed income they use to pay for childcare. Specifically, the Government will add an extra £2 for every £8 that eligible families pay into a special account used childcare costs — even more if the child has disabilities. We’ll explain more about the childcare account later, but the good news is that you can get as much as £2,000 per child per annum if you’re eligible, or up to twice that if your child has disabilities. That’s a lot of money!

Who is Eligible for Tax-Free Childcare?

We explain who is eligible for Tax-Free Childcare.Families, including single parent families, are usually eligible for tax-free childcare scheme if they meet the following criteria:

  • The claimants are working (employed or self-employed) in the UK;
  • They each earn under £100,000 per annum;
  • They each earn at least £152 per week, which is £1,976 over the next 3 months (the equivalent of 16 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage at time of writing);
  • They are not in receipt of childcare vouchers (which are closed to new applicants anyway), Universal Credit, Tax Credits or a childcare bursary/grant;
  • Parents/carers/guardians are over 16;
  • Children for whom they are claiming tax-free childcare is/are no older than 11 years of age or, if they have disabilities, no older than 16;
  • They should usually be living with the parent/carer/guardian(s) making the claim.

The above list represents the key rules governing eligibility for most families. However, there are some additional rules around eligibility — and some welcome exceptions to the above. Immigration and citizenship status may affect eligibility, for example, and some who are not working may still be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare under certain circumstances. Learn about eligibility rules for Tax-Free Childcare in more detail here.

Many will also be pleased to learn that families can also claim for the 30 Hours of free childcare scheme for 3 and 4-year-olds if they’re also eligible for that.

Which Providers Can Provide Childcare Under the Scheme?

Childcare providers using the Tax-Free Childcare funding must be registered with the Early Years Register, the Childcare Register or Ofsted.The Tax-Free Childcare contribution from the Government can only be used to pay for childcare provided by approved childcare providers that have signed up to the scheme. Such providers must be registered with either the Early Years Register, the Childcare Register or Ofsted in order to be approved. However, they can be nurseries, childminders, nannies, play schemes or even after school clubs. Little Acorns Nursery is, of course, such an approved childcare provider and would be happy to assist families to make the most of this very useful, free childcare funding opportunity.

How to Apply for Tax-Free Childcare

If you think you are eligible, you can apply for Tax-Free Childcare here. Applications usually take only twenty minutes or so and you will need:

  • Your Government Gateway User ID (or set one up if you don’t yet have one);
  • An email address and mobile phone at the ready;
  • Your own National Insurance number and that of your partner if you have one;
  • Your Unique Taxpayer Reference number (UTR) if self-employed;
  • One or more of the following (for you and your partner, if you have one): UK passport, P60, recent pay slip if you are working, Tax Credits confirmation from HMRC.

The application for Tax-Free Childcare will usually confirm right away whether you are eligible for tax-free childcare. It will also confirm if you’re eligible for 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds, which is an added bonus.

How is it Paid?

A successful application results in the generation of a Childcare Account, held jointly by you and your partner if you have one. You will then need to credit your account with your own payments for childcare provision and the Government will top this up with their contributions, equivalent to 20% of childcare costs worth up to £2,000 per annum (paid as £500 max. per quarter) or £4,000 (paid as £1,000 max. per quarter) if your child has disabilities. Paying your contributions specifically by Bank Transfer will apparently speed up payment of the Government contributions, by the way.

Once funds are showing as available, your childcare provider can be paid for childcare services direct from your childcare account, as either one-off, or regular payments. It cannot be used to pay for anything else and you’ll be required to confirm that your details are still up-to-date each quarter (a reminder will be sent when this is required).

Good luck and do let us know if you need any help or advice in regard to your application.

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, ChorleyLittle Acorns: the Best Nursery & Pre-School in Clayton, Chorley & Central Lancashire

An outstanding childcare providerOur amazing National nursery award and outstanding Ofsted rating prove that we are probably the best nursery and pre-school for babies and under-fives in Clayton-le-Woods, Clayton Green, Clayton Brook, Chorley, Central Lancashire and even beyond. Give your baby, toddler or under-five child the best start in life by choosing the exceptional childcare service from Little Acorns Nursery. For more information or to register for a nursery place, please get in touch. Choose a button below to get started …

Arrange a Nursery Visit Send Us a Message Call: 01772 696 288
15-30 Hours of Free Childcare for 2, 3 & 4-Year-Olds (A Rough Guide)

15-30 Hours of Free Childcare for 2, 3 & 4-Year-Olds (A Rough Guide)

Parents are wise to research & choose the best setting for their childChildren living in England are very fortunate to have their early years childcare supported financially by a variety of Government funding schemes. The 3 most important, popular and widely-available schemes are:

  • 15 hours per week of free childcare for eligible 3 & 4-year-olds;
  • 30 hours per week of free childcare for eligible 3 & 4-year-olds;
  • 15 hours per week of free childcare for eligible 2-year-olds.

Little Acorns Nursery School supports all three schemes for families who have been successful with their funding applications.

This free childcare can really help families, especially parents who wish to return to work and those wishing to improve their standard of living. With more people working, it also benefits the economy, of course.

Perhaps most importantly, Government funding of early years childcare greatly helps children. Studies have shown that children who receive a good early years education, for example at nursery or pre-school, really do benefit. That’s in both the short term and the long term. A Department for Education study showed that children attending high quality early years education settings benefit socially, behaviourally, cognitively and, of course, educationally. Indeed it’s abundantly clear that early years education gives children a very healthy head-start so they can really hit the ground running by the time they start school around the age of 5. Many of the benefits of early years education are, as we said before, much longer-lasting, even into adulthood. Perhaps we’ll cover more detail on that in a future post. Either way, though, it’s clear that this financial support from the Government is incredibly important.

A high quality early years education has many short and long-term benefits for childrenLet’s look at each of the schemes …

Please note: in all funding cases discussed here, the Government funding is paid direct to the setting (not the family) and strict rules apply to settings in order to be eligible for the funding. Little Acorns Nursery School qualifies on all counts and welcomes families whose childcare is funded in this way.

Free Childcare for 3 to 4-Year-Olds

15 Funded Hours for Children Aged 3-4

The great news is that all children aged 3 to 4 living in England are eligible to receive a total of 570 free hours of childcare per year. Simple! And there are no tricky hoops to jump through. The 570 hours are usually taken as 15 hours per week spread over 38 weeks, although it’s sometimes possible to spread it out in a different way if the childcare setting agrees. One of the great things about this Government scheme is that it is not means tested. Whether parents are employed, self-employed or unemployed does not matter. Similar schemes are also available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, by the way.

Children using the scheme can begin at an approved childcare setting in the term that follows their third birthday. Terms usually start in early January, April or September. They can continue benefiting from the free funded hours when they become four years of age. It only ceases once they reach “compulsory school age” and begin full-time education at school in Reception year. Compulsory school age is effectively the first day of the January, April or September term following their 5th birthday (whichever falls soonest after that birthday).

30 Funded Hours for Children Aged 3-4

Eligible children aged 3-4 can benefit from 15 to 30 hours of free childcare funding each weekTaking the above scheme a step further, eligible families are able to top up the standard 15 hours per week with an additional 15 hours of free childcare in specific circumstances. In effect, this can double the child’s free childcare hours from the standard 570 hours to 1140 per annum. These are usually taken as 30 hours per week over 38 weeks although, again, some childcare settings may be able to be flexible and to spread the hours out in a different way.

Eligibility for the extra hours depends on a few factors, although they are not so restrictive that they disallow most families — far from it. The factors include things like whether the child lives with the parent who is claiming (i.e. they must), whether the parent/their partner is working (they should be) and whether they are earning the equivalent of at least 16 hours per week at the National Living (or Minimum) Wage, while at the same time not earning above £100k in the current tax year. These are just a few examples of the eligibility criteria and it’s surprisingly easy, for many, to qualify for the extra funded hours. Check if you’re eligible for 30 hours of free childcare for 3-4-year-olds here.

Free Childcare for 2-Year-Olds

15 Funded Hours for 2-Year-Olds

Eligible children aged 2 can benefit from 15 hours of free childcare funding each weekUnder certain circumstances, children aged just two can have some of their childcare funded by the Government too. However, it’s much more restrictive for this age group. If successful, though, the Government will fund up to 570 hours of childcare for a two-year-old over the course of a year — that’s significant and could really help mothers or stay-at-home fathers get back to work sooner. As with the 3 & 4-year-olds, the 570 hours is usually taken as 15 hours per week over the course of 38 weeks, but some parents may wish to ask their childcare provider if it’s possible to spread it out in a different way.

The funding is available for eligible children to begin their childcare in the term after they reach the age of two. In other words, their birth date governs whether they will start in the January, April or September term.

In order to qualify for the 570 funded childcare hours, the two-year-old must fall into an ‘additional needs’ category, or their parent(s) must be receiving one or more qualifying benefits from the Government. Check your eligibility for free childcare funding for 2-year-olds here.

Apply For Free, Funded Childcare Hours Here

After checking eligibility for any of these childcare funding schemes, you simply need to contact your local authority to apply.

Apply for an Outstanding, Award-Winning Chorley Nursery

An outstanding childcare providerLittle Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, ChorleyIf you live or work in the Chorley or Clayton area of Central Lancashire, Little Acorns Nursery School would be a natural first choice for your weekday childcare. Ofsted rate the nursery as outstanding and the setting was the outright winner of a major National nursery award. High quality childcare doesn’t get any better than this, so please do consider us for childcare of if you have a baby and child aged up to five and want to give them the very best start. The nursery and pre-school is in Clayton-le-Woods, close to Clayton Green, Clayton Brook and Chorley. It is also a Forest School setting, so children get to enjoy and learn from everything that nature has to offer. If you are looking for childcare excellence in a warm, inviting and nurturing environment, please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you …

Arrange a Nursery Visit Send Us a Message Call: 01772 696 288