If you’re anything like us and you’re trying to decipher how the latest Spring budget might impact you, you’re probably pretty confused. And rightly so. The latest childcare support reforms announced by the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, are tricky to navigate.
So we’ve decided to do all the hard work so you don’t have to, and really take the time to get our heads around what it means for our Hippychick audience – families with pre-school children.
The good news is that parents looking to return to the workplace really are the biggest winners in the latest budget – hoorah!! It’s about time as the UK is the third-most expensive country for childcare in the world, based on a couple earning the average wage, according to data from The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which means that many women (and it is normally women) feel unable to return to work after having children due to the high costs involved.
Here’s the low down on the Spring budget childcare cost reforms – what, when and who:
HOW DOES THE SPRING BUDGET HELP WITH CHILDCARE COSTS AT THE MOMENT?
Currently, all children aged three and four are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week. However, this rises to 30 hours with some caveats – both you and your partner need to be in work, earn at last the national minimum wage and neither parent must earn in excess of £100,000 per annum to benefit.
Parents with children aged 2 can claim 15 hours free childcare week, but only if they receive certain benefits.
WHAT ARE THE KEY CHANGES?
If both adults in a single household work at least 16 hours a week they will receive 30 hours free childcare per week from when their child is nine months old to four years old. The childcare will apply for 38 weeks of the year.
According to the Chancellor, the package is worth an average £6,500 saving for a family with a two-year old child using 35 hours of childcare a week.
WHEN WILL IT HAPPEN?
There will be a phased introduction of these additional childcare benefits to ensure there are enough childminders in the system to cope with the extra demand.
From April 2024:
Working parents with children aged 2+ will be given 15 hours of free child care per week.
From September 2024:
Working parents with children aged from nine months, will receive 15 hours of free childcare which will apply as soon as maternity leave ends.
From September 2025:
All eligible households with children under five will be given 30 hours free childcare.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE FAMILIES ON UNIVERSAL CREDIT?
Currently, families on universal credit have to make the childcare payment up front and out of their own pocket and then claim a refund. The Chancellor is making the system a whole lot simpler by announcing that the government will pay the childcare costs upfront.
The childcare element of universal credit currently covers 85% of childcare costs, up to a maximum of £646.35 per month for one child, or £1,108.04 for two or more children.
Under the new plans, this will rise to £951 per month for one child, and £1,630 for two or more children.
The Government have not yet revealed when these changes will be made but it is understood that they will probably come into force this Summer. So, make a note in your diary to check progress if you are currently receiving Universal Credit.
We trust this has made things clearer for you. Our mission is to not only supply you with products that make your life easier, but with information that makes your life easier too. Keep checking back to our blog page to see more helpful posts from the Hippychick team. Thanks for reading.