I would like to raise my concerns about the planned closure of the Childcare Vouchers scheme to new entrants in April 2018.
While I understand that Government intends to replace this with Tax-Free Childcare, which has benefits such as access to the self-employed, there are a number of parents that will lose out. Many of these, particularly those on lower wages are likely to receive less financial support with Tax-Free Childcare than they would with Childcare Vouchers.
Families where one parent loses their job through no fault of their own or has to stop working to care for a relative will also receive no support while they would have continued to receive some support with Childcare Vouchers.
Therefore I would ask that Childcare Vouchers were kept open alongside Tax-Free Childcare so that parents would have a choice of the childcare support that worked best for them and their families.
Childcare Vouchers are offered by the entire public sector, every large organisation and most medium sized companies. 1000s of new small and medium sized companies join every year and as such the vast majority of working parents have access to it.
Many of these parents would be disadvantaged if they had to use Tax-Free Childcare rather than Childcare Vouchers. In fact, according to Department of Education figures, a family with an average amount of expenditure would be eligible for less support with Tax-Free Childcare compared to Childcare Vouchers. Only those that can afford to spend £8000 a year on childcare would have access to the headline £2000 of support offered by Tax-Free Childcare.
This differential is further exacerbated when also considering that families will not be able to claim any working tax credits or child tax credits if they claim Tax-Free Childcare.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly made clear that ordinary working families are to be the centre of her domestic agenda and if that is so, we would expect her to recognise the importance of their contribution to the economy, society and Government finances by not removing this crucial support.
I would be grateful if you would raise these issues with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Education Secretary.
You may also have noticed that a petition was created about this issue on the Parliament website. It has reached over 100,000 signatures and a debate has been scheduled for 4:30pm on 15 January 2018. I ask that you’ll stand on the side of ordinary working families during this debate and call for Childcare Vouchers to be kept open alongside Tax-Free Childcare.