This isn’t just about seizing the opportunity, but about preventing the impending crisis if we don’t.
The Department for Education’s figures show that Tax-Free Childcare operating alone would result in reverse-redistribution.
A world with Tax-Free Childcare and without Childcare Vouchers would give the average family in London three times as much support as those in the North East – £905 vs £312 per year.
There have already been a number of concerning headlines regarding the Childcare Choices website, through which Tax-Free Childcare is run. A quick search of #taxfreechildcare on Twitter will show the strength of animosity around the issue. And this is the case with only a minority of parents registered.
With the legacy plans, Childcare Vouchers will close to all new parents and any parent changing employer from April 2018. This will lead to a surge of parents applying to Tax-Free Childcare.
Current and prior experience suggests that there is a high risk of this causing significant issues. There have been a number of technical issues with the roll-out to date and parents with older children are still unable to access the scheme.
At the very least keeping Childcare Vouchers open past April 2018 provides a safety net when parents and Government may need it most.
A petition on the Government petitions website to keep Childcare Vouchers open has surpassed 100,000 signatures and a debate will now take place on Monday 15 January 2018 at 4.30pm in Westminster Hall. There is a genuine opportunity for the Government to get on the front foot ahead of this debate with a compelling vision, but the window of opportunity is narrow.