Pirate FM News 4 minute read

More parents in Cornwall using government childcare scheme

More parents in Cornwall using government childcare scheme

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 8:00am 5th July 2020.

More parents in Cornwall are using a government scheme to help with the cost of childcare, new figures reveal.

Tax-free Childcare supports working families by topping up cash they pay into a pot for services such as childminders, nurseries and nannies.

But industry body the Early Years Alliance has labelled it a “dead horse of a policy” that penalises disadvantaged households, and which has seen poor uptake since its launch.

HMRC data shows mums and dads in Cornwall paid into tax-free childcare accounts for 3,005 children in 2019-20, up from 1,555 the previous year.

Families get 20p for every 80p they put into their account, up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for a child with a disability.

The scheme, which was launched in 2017, is open to children aged 11 or under from eligible households, while those with disabilities can benefit up the age of 17.

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


The latest Office for National Statistics population figures show there are 72,440 children aged 11 or under in the area, meaning around 4% had accounts last year.

Not all children will qualify, either because their parents are not in work or claiming Universal Credit, tax credits, or certain other benefits, or if one of them earns more than £100,000 a year.

Parents also need to earn at least the equivalent of the national minimum wage for 16 hours per week – currently £139.52 for those aged 25 or over, but less for younger workers.

Across the UK, around 396,000 children had accounts paid into in 2019-20 – almost double the figure a year earlier – with the Government paying out £236 million in top-up contributions.

That equates to around 4% of children aged 11 or under across the country, according to the ONS data.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said “only a fraction” of eligible families had registered for an account since they were made

“Tax-free childcare has always been a regressive and fundamentally flawed policy which unfairly penalises disadvantaged families, as the more money parents can save towards childcare, the more government support they're entitled to.

"With the childcare sector in crisis and in urgent need of serious financial support, the last thing the Government should be doing is flogging this dead horse of a policy when they should be looking at serious alternatives which will actually help support disadvantaged families and ensure the wider sector survives the impact of the coronavirus outbreak."

Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance


Members of the early years sector have accused the Government of leaving them out of a recently announced £1 billion package aimed at tackling the impact of Covid-19 on young people.

The National Day Nurseries Association says ministers should use savings made due to low uptake of Tax-free Childcare to help the sector.

Chief executive Purnima Tanuku said: “Early years was shamefully left out of the support package announced for education last week – it’s time for the Government to right that wrong."

“Tax-free Childcare is a great offer for working parents and we continue to encourage more parents to apply for it.

"We’ve also put in place measures to ensure parents who are normally eligible for Tax-free Childcare will continue to receive the government top-up if their income levels fall due to the impact of coronavirus."

Government spokesperson

You can find all the source data here.

Contact Us

If you would like to submit a query or provide more information on this story please get in touch below.

Please wait...
  • Up to 3 JPG or PNG images, 2MB max size
  • We will always endeavour to credit you when we publish your pictures.
  • By uploading you are agreeing to this non-exclusive reuse, royalty-free, across all Pirate FM platforms, which extends to our partner broadcasters.
  • You retain copyright to all images.
  • If you would like to send us a video, please upload to YouTube or similar and paste the video URL into the message above.
Email Icon

Sign up for exclusive news, competitions and offers.
Proper Local News updates from Pirate FM

Suggested articles

10 schools across Cornwall to get share of £6.4m cash pot

Cornwall News: The cash will help to improve facilities and classrooms

Warning against remote GP appointments becoming the norm in Cornwall

Cornwall News: As face-to-face contact decreases the Patients Association says the benefits must be assessed

Newer articles

Tens of thousands of eligible Cornwall women miss smear tests

Cornwall News: There are fears people are scared to make appointments because of coronavirus

Tesco donates half a million meals across Cornwall

Cornwall News: The surplus food is given to vulnerable families and individuals

Older articles

Warning about drinking on the Cornish coast as pubs reopen

Cornwall News: People are being urged to know the dangers of consuming alcohol near water

Half-a-million-pound fund to fight anti-social behaviour across the south west

Cornwall News: Seven summertime locations in Cornwall will benefit as a surge in visitors is expected this weekend

Most read

Group of teenage kayakers rescued after getting into difficulty

Cornwall News: The group were struggling against the wind and tide in west Cornwall

Gas cylinder 'explodes' at Royal Cornwall Hospital

Cornwall News: A 999 call was made from Treliske after Nitric Oxide was released