Parents discuss concerns about Tax-Free Childcare with chancellor

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Parents at Busy Bees nursery in Hammersmith have been visited by chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne to air their views on the Government's proposed changes to childcare vouchers.

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Mr Osborne wanted to speak with working parents to gain an insight into the impact of the changes, currently out for consultation.

The discussion soon became focused on how the Government could do more to help UK families financially after parents made it clear that they were unwilling to compromise on the quality of their children’s care.

The Tax-Free Childcare scheme, being introduced in Autumn 2015, provoked concerns about plans to make the offer available only to families with two working parents. In light of the current job market, parents were unsure of what would happen to Government support if one were to be faced with losing their job.

Kirsty Todd, a mother of three, who currently saves her vouchers to help towards holiday care for her school-age children, raised issue with restrictions in the scheme that mean Tax-Free Childcare is initially only available for families with children under five, which she said is far less flexible than the current scheme that is open to children up to the age of 16.

Under the Government's proposals, families with children under the age of five and disabled children under 17 can claim 20 per cent of their annual childcare costs, up to £6,000 a year.

After the first year, the scheme will be extended to incude families with children under 12 years old.

Busy Bees chief executive John Woodward highlighted the need for higher caps on childcare vouchers, as demanded by the nursery group’s ‘Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap’ campaign.

He said, ‘In our opinion the childcare voucher system is an effective way of helping working parents to save money. However, raising the cap on childcare vouchers would mean a considerable financial benefit for our working families.'

Shirley Ballin, manager at the Hammersmith nursery, added,  ‘Parents present who were part of a two-parent working family were able to appreciate the benefits and welcomed the changes.

‘’The chancellor seemed genuinely interested in the points raised and we hope that our contribution will be taken into account.’

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