Boris Johnson pushes for families to take up childcare support in cost-of-living crisis

Government officials are preparing to launch a new campaign to raise awareness about the tax-free childcare allowance, a scheme under which parents can claim up to £500 every three months.

Research published by HMRC earlier this year found that 1.3 million families are eligible for the tax break but have not claimed it, with polling showing one in five parents did not know they met the eligibility criteria.

“It’s something that is there and is budgeted for and is actually quite a sizeable benefit,” a Downing Street source said. “The PM would certainly be keen to see more people made aware of it and encouraged to take it up.”

Steve Barclay, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has written to ministers asking them to come up with policies that will address the cost-of-living crisis.

The policies – which will need to be funded through existing department budgets – will be presented at a Cabinet committee meeting chaired by Mr Johnson next month.

He is understood to favour proposals to launch a public information campaign to encourage take up of the tax-free childcare scheme, which is open to any working parents who earn up to £100,000 each. The money can be put towards the cost of nurseries and childminders as well as holiday clubs and sports centres.

It comes after one of the most testing weeks of Mr Johnson’s premiership, in which Conservative party whips were forced to abandon an attempt to delay a parliamentary investigation into whether he deliberately misled the Commons over Downing Street parties.

The drama overshadowed Mr Johnson’s visit to India, which was intended to focus on trade.

He has so far received one £50 fixed penalty notice after attending a small gathering to mark his 56th birthday in June 2020.

However, police are looking into five further events that he allegedly attended, and it is widely expected that he will receive further fines before the investigation is complete.

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