New tax-free childcare accounts were announced in 2014 to replace the employer-provided childcare voucher scheme. Introduction has been delayed by legal disputes with organisations involved in administering the existing scheme, but the new accounts will at last be introduced on a trial basis in early 2017.
The new scheme will then be rolled out across the country based on the results of the trial. The rules are complex, but where both parents work and earn at least £115 per week, they will be able to put up to £8,000 a year into a special account which the Government will top up with 20p for every 80p contributed by the parents. This account can only be used to pay for childcare such as nursery fees.
It is anticipated that the new scheme will eventually replace the existing childcare voucher scheme which is only available to employees who work for organisations that offer such schemes. The new system will benefit the self-employed as well as those workers in organisations that currently do not provide childcare vouchers.