South East parents could be missing out on hundreds in childcare support

 Survey reveals nearly third of working parents in South East are unaware of government’s tax-free childcare scheme 
97% of working parents in the South East feel that childcare costs are too highIncomes can’t cope with increasing childcare costs – nearly a fifth of those earning more than £40,000 per annum say childcare is unaffordable
85% of part-time working parents in the South East would consider working more hours if childcare costs were cheaper84% would be more likely to work for a company offering to pay into a childcare accountNearly a third of working parents in the region are unaware that tax-free childcare even exists 
 A new survey has revealed that nearly a third (30%) of working parents in South East England are unaware that the government-backed Tax-Free Childcare scheme exists and could be missing out on hundreds of pounds in support. Despite being launched in April 2017 to replace Childcare Vouchers, which were closed to new applicants last October, many working parents are struggling to balance childcare costs with office hours, with 97% in the region stating that childcare costs are too high.
 The survey, which was carried out by Perrys Chartered Accountants to raise awareness of the tax benefits that working parents might be missing out on, also revealed that 88% of part-time workers with children would consider working longer hours if costs for childcare were cheaper.
 Childcare costs are notoriously high in the UK, with the average charge for sending a child under two to nursery equating to £127 per week for 25 hours (part-time). As a proportion of a family’s net income, on average 33% of outgoings will go towards paying for childcare. This is up to 29% higher compared with other countries in Europe.
The UK’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme allows parents to get up to £2,000 per child, per year to help cover childcare costs. Declan McCusker, who is a Partner at Perrys Chartered Accountants, said:
 “Despite the introduction of Tax-Free Childcare it seems many parents are missing out. This is a concern, particularly when the majority of working parents find it difficult to pay for childcare during school holidays, when costs per child can more than double.” 
Kate Clifford is a part-time working parent with three children. She said: “Since I returned to employment, my husband and I haven’t taken time off together. We share our annual leave in order to reduce the costs of childcare during the school holidays. It can be incredibly expensive with three children attending a club daily during a five-day week. Fortunately, the company I work for is flexible and allows me to work my hours around childcare arrangements to help me to minimise costs. However, not every working parent has this option. It’s hard balancing parenting and working hours, and it becomes even more difficult when childcare costs are so high.”
 Declan added: “I’d recommend parents review their options. They might be eligible for certain benefits to help cover the costs of childcare, including Tax-Free Childcare, which they either don’t know about or think they can’t claim.” 
Image captionChildcare costs crisis?
High res image available on request.  Please contact harriette.conroy@pmwcom.co.uk.The full survey results can be viewed at http://www.gorkanasurveys.com/CifeyAAAM.Notes to Editor:Perrys is a firm of chartered accountants based in London and Kent with 7 branches located in City, Mayfair, Orpington, Historic Dockyard Chatham, Tunbridge Wells, West Malling and Wrotham.  They provide a range of accountancy and tax planning services to clients ranging from start-up businesses and sole traders to large companies.  Their team consists of experienced, qualified and approachable experts specialising in a range of complex areas including inheritance tax planning, expert witness, corporate finance and compliance audits.  They pride themselves on delivering a friendly and knowledgeable service offering excellent value for money.Website: www.perrysaccountants.co.uk