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Only 7% of eligible parents sign up for tax-free childcare

By Deri Jones
 
The expected cost of tax-free childcare has plummeted after just 7% of eligible parents signed up to the scheme since its launch in April 2017.
 
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), a public body that provides independent economic forecasts and independent analysis, had estimated that the scheme would cost £0.8 billion in 2017-18. 
 
The organisation has now forecast that tax-free childcare will cost as little as £37 million after just 30,000 parents signed up to the scheme – far less than the 415,000 initially expected.
 
In its Autumn Budget 2017 policy measures document, the OBR said that while it had expected take-up of the offer to be slower than initially expected after several delays to the scheme and a staggered rollout, the number of parents joining the scheme was still lower than they had expected.
 
Earlier this month, a petition calling for the childcare vouchers scheme to be kept open attracted more than 100,000 signatures on the government's website. The vouchers are currently due to close to new applicants in April 2018. 
 
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Read the full OBR report here