By Ian Ackerley, CEO, NS&I
Tax-Free Childcare is a new government policy led by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which offers financial support for childcare for working parents. Thirty hours free childcare is a Department for Education (DfE) policy and an extension for working families of the existing 15 hours free childcare for three and four year olds in England.
The childcare service launched in April 2017 and by the end of March 2018 there were more than 370,000 customers registered to use the service. While the vast majority of parents have been able to apply successfully for Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours, some customers have experienced problems using the service.
We have worked closely with HMRC to identify the cause of these problems and, by working together, a series of incremental improvements have been made to the service. We recognise the frustration and inconvenience that these issues caused some parents and we are sorry that this happened. We are continuing to work with HMRC to further improve the service to make it as simple and straightforward as possible for parents.
We applied the lessons learned from Tax-Free Childcare to the development of another service we are delivering in partnership with HMRC: Help to Save. This is a government-backed saving scheme to support working people on low incomes to build their savings. The pilot scheme is working well and full roll-out is planned to start in October 2018.