More in Sunderland sign up for childcare help

More parents in Sunderland are getting help with the cost of childcare through a Government scheme, new figures reveal

Monday, 24th May 2021, 10:24 am
Updated Monday, 24th May 2021, 10:27 am
Childcare cash

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) say 1,015 parents in the city took advantage of the Tax-free Childcare scheme last year – but many could still to be missing out.

The scheme topped up working families' spending on childcare by £241m nationally last year, but HMRC believes around a million eligible households are not making use of it.

The Sunderland figure is an increase on the 835 who used the scheme in 2019-20.

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Under the scheme, families get £2 for every £8 they put into an account set up for childcare spending – up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for a child with a disability.

While more families in Sunderland are benefitting from the subsidy, a comparison with population estimates suggests many are not.

There were accounts for 1,130 children in 2020-21, but the latest population estimates from the Office for National Statistics show there are 37,181 children aged 11 or under in the area.

The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) also said the Government must do more to encourage more parents to sign up, adding the current childcare funding system is too complex for parents and providers.

Jonathan Broadbery, director of policy and communication, said: "We want to see a single online account for families which brings together all childcare support to ensure funding to support a child’s early learning follows that child."

The Department for Education said it has spent more than £3.5bn on early education entitlements over the past three years.