Thousands of families missing out on free childcare support worth up to £4,000

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Thousands of families across the UK are missing out on money from the government to help towards childcare.

Families are eligible to save money on their childcare and benefit from a government top-up worth up to £2,000 every year – or up to £4,000 a year if a child is disabled.

But many are not claiming the cash.

In June 2021, about 40,165 families in the North West benefited from using Tax-Free Childcare, but thousands are missing out, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Tax-Free Childcare is available to eligible parents or carers who have children aged up to 11, or 17 if their child is disabled.

For every £8 a parent or carer deposits into their account, they will receive a £2 top-up, up to the value of £500 every three months, or £1,000 if their child is disabled.

HMRC recognises that families’ personal circumstances have changed since March 2020 as more parents and carers are preparing to return to their workplaces.

The 20% top-up is paid into the child’s Tax-Free Childcare account and is ready to use almost instantly, meaning parents and carers can use the money towards the cost of childminders, breakfast and after school clubs, and approved play schemes.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said: “As your children head back to school this autumn, don’t miss out on the opportunity to receive your 20% top-up to help pay for their childcare.

“It is quick and easy to sign-up, just search ‘tax-free childcare’ on GOV.UK.”

Tax-Free Childcare is also available for pre-school aged children attending nurseries, childminders or other accredited childcare providers.

Parents and carers, who are returning to work after parental leave, can apply for a Tax-Free Childcare account for that child before they need to start using it.

Families can start depositing money 31 days before they return to work, maximising the potential government top-up saving.

Childcare providers can also sign up for a childcare provider account via GOV.UK to receive payments from parents and carers via the scheme.