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Parents missing out on government’s free childcare options

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Around two-thirds of working parents are missing out on government-sponsored childcare options, according to the Killik & Co Real Cost of Childcare report.

It showed that 69% of those interviewed were not using the 15 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds, and none were currently using the additional 15 hours introduced in September. A fifth (21%) plan to do so in future.

This could see parents missing out on as much as £8,000 of free childcare per year. The savings can be accessed through an online account, available through the government’s website. There have been teething problems with the system, but most of the problems have now been rectified.

40% of couples use an existing Childcare Vouchers scheme, but this will close to new applicants from April 2018. Childcare Vouchers can be used in conjunction with the 30 hours free childcare scheme highlighted above.

Svenja Keller, head of wealth planning at Killik & Co. said: “We are now living in an economic environment where the cost of childcare is influencing parents’ decision on whether or not they choose to have more children…Parents could make significant savings towards their goals through financial planning, regular savings and by making use of financial incentives.”

The survey reveals many parents take an ad-hoc approach to childcare – over 71% of respondents depend on extended family as the main source of childcare, with 65% of help specifically from the child’s grandparents. 40% of parents have cut back their working hours in the last five years due to the cost of childcare.

London emerged as the most expensive place for childcare with parents spending on average £152 per week compared to the lowest of £95 in the North East.

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