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Parents will be eligible for 30 hours free childcare if income falls below threshold

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There’s relief for parents as the government confirms they will still be eligible for 30 hours free childcare if their income drops below the minimum threshold as a result of coronavirus.

Last week revealed that parents who benefit from 30 hours free childcare may no longer qualify for the scheme if they experience a fall in income as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

However, parents who receive Tax-Free Childcare and are suffering financially as a result of the pandemic would still be eligible.

This discrepancy has now been resolved as the Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that parents who were previously eligible for the scheme will continue to qualify during the summer term, even if their income has fallen below the minimum requirement or they have lost their job.

Ordinarily, each parent must work and earn a weekly minimum of the equivalent of 16 hours at national minimum wage or living wage (£139 per week), and less than £100,000 a year. This includes self-employed parents.

The government also confirmed parents who are critical workers will remain eligible for their entitlements if their income has increased over the maximum threshold during the Covid-19 pandemic, subject to parliamentary approval.

Currently, nurseries and schools only remain open for children of key workers and parents of vulnerable children.

The government said it will review the measures over the summer.

Minister for children and families, Vicky Ford, said: “Juggling the demands of work and childcare is never easy for parents, and now more than ever they have our full support. Nurseries, childminders and all our early years settings are working hard to continue offering safe and high-quality childcare places for critical workers and parents of vulnerable children.

“No parent whose income falls as a result of this virus should lose their eligibility for free childcare at this time. That’s why we are confirming that anyone who was previously eligible should remain so.”

Ford added that she’s asked local authorities to extend the validity of 30 hours codes of any parents who have missed their chance to reconfirm. Parents are required to reconfirm their eligibility for 30 hours free childcare and Tax-Free Childcare quarterly. The 30 hours deadline for the summer term has been extended to 31 August to give working parents additional time to protect their place.

Neil Leitch chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: “We welcome the confirmation by the Department for Education today that parents no longer meeting the wage requirements for the 30 hours scheme due to the impact of the coronavirus can continue to access this support during this challenging time.

“Given that the same offer of support was announced by HMRC for those accessing Tax-Free Childcare, it is only fair and consistent for the Department for Education to extend this support to the 30 hours offer. We know that many parents are facing real financial difficulty at this time, and hope that this move will provide at least some reassurance to those who have experienced a loss of income, including those who have been furloughed, through no fault of their own.”

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