The Fixer: Help with childcare costs

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Dear Fixer,
I have recently received a letter stating that my wife and I are having the child benefit we receive for our two young sons cut because I earn more than £50,000 a year.

This is a shame as my wife is about to return to work after a few years off, and most of her income was already set to be eaten up by childcare costs.

For our younger son who attends nursery, these are already more than £5,000 a year. And once my wife starts her new job, we will need to pay more to have someone pick our older boy up from school too.

With the child benefit cut on top of this, it almost seems that the government would prefer mothers to stay at home rather than go back to work and support the economy.

Do you have any ideas of ways that we can cut our childcare costs so that there is more financial benefit of my wife going to work? Thanks in advance.

M Burton, Plymouth

Dear Mr Burton,

As you state in your letter, your family is one of the many having its child benefit cut from January next year.

Fortunately, however, this does not stop you taking advantage of other government schemes designed to help working parents cover their childcare costs.

Childcare vouchers, for example, enable you to pay for childcare out of your gross (pre-tax and National Insurance) income and could cut your childcare costs by more than £1,000 a year. To find out if you could qualify, ask your employer if it offers access to the scheme.

Other great ways to reduce the amount you pay for childcare include taking advantage of after-school clubs that could allow you or your wife to pick up your older son. Check out notice boards and websites, and ask other parents, to find out what is going on.

If you can find a few other families to share a nanny with, you may also find that this is a more cost-effective option than a nursery (and could also solve your school run problem).

Specialist websites such as Nannyshare.co.uk match local families with similar needs. A six-month subscription costs £25 and includes the creation of your family profile and one free job posting.

The Fixer

Whatever your financial problem, write to themoneyfixer@aim.com and The AOL Money Fixer will get on the case.