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Childcare voucher scheme extended by 6 months


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The Education secretary, Damian Hinds has announced that the deadline for joining the childcare vouchers scheme has been extended by six months. Previously, the final date for applications was 6th April 2018. The final date will now be during October 2018. The exchange in Parliament went as follows (from Hansard)

  • We have had fully 24 Back-Bench speeches in this debate, and I will seek to respond to as many as I can in the short time available. There are five main elements to our support in early years and childcare, and each one is a bigger offer than under Labour. First, there are 15 hours a week of free early education for disadvantaged two-year-olds. There was no such entitlement under Labour. Today’s regulations amend the eligibility criteria, introducing an equivalent earnings threshold of £15,400, which typically equates to somewhere between £24,000 and £32,000 in total household income. By 2023, we estimate that around 7,000 more children will benefit from the entitlement compared with the previous system.

    Secondly, there is the universal 15 hours a week free childcare for three and four-year-olds—more hours than under Labour and now with the early years pupil premium, which was also not available under Labour. Thirdly, there are an additional 15 hours for working parents, and guess what? No such offer existed before 2010. Fourthly, up to 85% of childcare costs can be reimbursed through universal credit, which is a higher percentage than was ever available under tax credits. Finally, tax-free childcare will provide support for nearly 1 million more families than the existing vouchers scheme.

  • Given the concerns raised across the House about the April closure of the childcare vouchers scheme, does the Secretary of State agree that the closure should be delayed to allow for those concerns to be addressed?

  • I have heard the concerns about the timing, and I can confirm that, following the hon. Lady’s representations, we will be able to keep the voucher scheme open to new entrants for a further six months.

    Tax-free childcare will mean that more people become eligible, regardless of their employer and including the self-employed for the first time.



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