This week I have been finalising childcare for when I return to work (*sob*) and it is a serious minefield when it comes to government schemes, tax credits and free child care. It appears to be such a complicated system and yet still so expensive for so many.
We are super lucky as we have parents nearby who can help out, so we only pay for one day a week, which for two babies is still very expensive.
The first decision parents have to make it the type of setting to put your children in. Nursery, childminder, playschool. Previously we put Mop Top into a local nursery, but this time there wasn’t really that option that would work for us. So we started to look into child minders. I met five child minders, and actually chose the first one I met ( typical woman shopping I guess) For us I felt a child minder could be slightly more flexible than a nursery, and it was more home from home. Child minders now seem very similar to a nursery setting, as they are governed my Ofsted so have to follow all the same guidelines including paperwork, EYFS and training. We shall see how our child-minding journey takes us.
Now we all know the cost of child care is ridiculous so if there are any schemes, benefits, funding available it is worth looking into them. Iv been looking at the Childcare Choices Website (www.childcarechoices.gov.uk) this week to try and get my head around it. Now I am not a pro at this, and this is not an exhaustive list of the help available.
Most people are aware of the 15 hours free childcare, which starts when your child hits 3 years old. Every family is entitled to this. Free child care hours apparently are being increased for some in September to 30 hours. It is only for 38 weeks of the year, the academic year and both parents must be working and earning a certain weekly wage. One to keep an eye on and register for if you are entitled.
Childcare vouchers is something we have used previously. Most major companies use them and most child care settings accept them. You can get up to £933 in tax and NI savings. You can choose the amount you pay into your account and it comes out of wages before an tax and NI (hence the savings)
A new scheme apparently coming soon is tax free childcare. For every £8 we pay, the government will put in £2. Again both parents need to earn a minimum amount, but is available for working families. You can not use this new scheme along side child care vouchers, but are still entitled to the 15/30 free hours.
I told you its a minefield out there with trying to work the best and cheapest way for you and your family. Id definitely recommend checking out the Childcare Choices website, they also have a link to the government childcare calculator, so you can work out based on all your information what’s best for you. It is slightly long winded and you have to input all your incomes etc but worth it I guess.
So many parents are facing the struggle of getting that balance right of going to work for financial reasons or actually ending up paying the majority of their wages on childcare, which I guess in turn seems pointless.
I hope you all find the right childcare setting for those precious little ones and get the help you are entitled to. The most important thing is getting the right balance for your family!