Childcare and education mean specific things in UK law. Education is the time a child spends full-time in a school from around the age of 5 to 17-18. Childcare covers everything else, from early years nursery and preschool provision to extracurricular activities and after-school clubs for older children.
Working families with children under 12 years old and an adjusted net income of less than £100,000 are entitled to tax free childcare.
This replaces the old childcare vouchers scheme that expired in 2018. To take advantage of tax-free childcare, parents pay money into a government-sponsored online account. For every £8 invested, the government contributes an additional £2 subsidy, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child each year.
Parents can also take advantage of 15-30 hours of free childcare for children aged 2 to 4. This stops once a child takes up a place in reception class at a state school, or until the child’s fifth birthday (whichever comes soonest).
Can either of these entitlements be used toward private school fees? Technically no. Neither free childcare hours nor tax-free childcare contributions are intended to pay for school fees. Instead, most parents use these allowances to pay for a childminder or nursery.
However, many independent schools accept pupils from the age of three into their prep school or nursery, with full schooling starting at the age of four. These schools may accept tax-free childcare payments and vouchers as part payment of fees up to the child’s fifth birthday, and some parents are taking advantage of this to subsidise the cost of their children’s first year at private school.
For information about spreading the cost of private school fees, and tax-efficient long-term planning, please get in touch with one of our advisers today. We are independent school fees advisers, and we specialise in mapping out school fees plans that are affordable, realistic, and comfortable.
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