Have you planned your summer childcare?

With brighter nights upon us, many working parents are starting to think about their summer childcare plans. Additional childcare costs over the school summer holidays can put a significant added strain on already stretched family finances.

Find out what financial support is available

There is help available with the cost of registered childcare, which can include some summer schemes, as well as year round providers such as registered childminders, out of school clubs and day nurseries. For example, parents may use Universal Credit, Tax-Free Childcare, Childcare Vouchers or Tax Credits to help meet their bills. Ahead of the summer now is a good time to make sure your family is receiving all the financial support you are entitled to.

Increased support with childcare costs through Universal Credit

In the Spring budget the Chancellor confirmed an increase in support for childcare costs through Universal Credit that applies for families across the UK.

The maximum support that can be received towards childcare costs over this summer is £1,014 per month for one child and £1,739 for two or more children.

New childcare subsidy announced in Northern Ireland

In May, Education Minister Paul Givan, MLA announced details of a new package of support for childcare in Northern Ireland. This includes a new Northern Ireland Childcare Subsidy scheme, to be available from September 2024 to working parents. It will provide a 15% subsidy towards the cost of childcare for all pre-school age children, whose parents are eligible for and using Tax-Free Childcare, on top of the 20% contribution from Tax-Free Childcare.

It has not yet been made clear if the subsidy will be available to parents who use Childcare Vouchers to help pay for registered childcare. Further information is expected from the Department of Education in coming weeks. In the meantime we would encourage parents who are using Childcare Vouchers to continue to do so and not to leave the Childcare Voucher scheme to join Tax-Free Childcare at this stage, unless you have received a calculation from the Family Benefits Advice Service at Employers For Childcare advising you that this is the best option for your family. Once a family leaves Childcare Vouchers to join Tax-Free Childcare they cannot rejoin the Childcare Voucher scheme.

Finding suitable childcare

The Family Support NI website www.familysupportni.gov.uk is a useful resource for families looking for registered childcare and includes a search function for all registered childcare providers across Northern Ireland, including summer schemes.

Alternative working arrangements

Talk to your employer to see if they can facilitate alternative or flexible working patterns if you find it challenging to manage childcare over the summer.

Flexible working arrangements can take various forms for example part-time working, compressed hours (working your agreed hours over fewer days), job sharing or term-time only working.

Further information

To find out more about what financial support you are entitled to with your summer childcare, contact our Family Benefits Advice Service on 028 9267 8200 or email hello@employersforchildcare.org.