HMRC have published the quarterly statistics for Tax-free Childcare for the period ending 31 December 2023. There is reduced usage for the scheme but a greater overall spend.

The statistics show that usage of Tax-free Childcare rose in October compared to September 2023 but fell in both November and December; it is thought the Christmas holidays were a factor in the December fall.

In December 2023 usage had declined to 440,000 families using the childcare for 523,000 children compared to September's figures of 456,000 families and 547,000 children respectively.  Despite this fall, the government spent £46.2m on top-up payments in December, which was £4.7m higher than in December 2022.

Tax-free Childcare was launched in April 2017 with a phased roll-out which was completed in February 2018.

A key difference between the previous system of vouchers and the new scheme for childcare is that self-employed parents are eligible for the new form of childcare. In contrast, they were not previously entitled to use childcare vouchers.  The old voucher scheme was closed to new entrants in October 2018; see Childcare: Tax-free childcare and voucher comparison

Useful guides on this topic

Childcare: Free and Tax-free Childcare
What childcare support is available?  Can my child get 15 or 30 free hours of childcare?  Am I eligible for the 25% government contribution towards childcare costs through the Tax-free Childcare scheme?

Childcare: Tax-free childcare and voucher comparison
The Tax-Free Childcare scheme commenced on 21 April 2017. It has now replaced the Childcare voucher scheme which closed in 2018 to new entrants. This guide compares the two schemes. Those still in the old scheme are generally better off staying in that scheme.

External link

HMRC 'Tax-free Childcare Statistics Commentary December 2023'