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Carers will qualify for childcare vouchers


Plans to help working parents with nursery bills are to be  extended to cover carers and  people taking maternity or paternity leave.

Chancellor George Osborne will confirm today that he is pressing ahead with a £1bn scheme to ease the childcare costs faced by families with two working parents.

The plan has come under fire from mothers who choose to stay at home to bring up their children and for directing too much cash towards the better-off.

Under the scheme, announced in the Budget, families will receive help through childcare vouchers worth up to £1,200 a year for each child. About 2.5 million households will eventually benefit after its launch in 2015.

The vouchers will be available to parents earning up to £150,000 each, meaning a couple with a  combined income of £300,000 could qualify.

In the face of criticism, Mr Osborne has broadened the scheme to include parents who cannot work because they are full-time carers.

It will also be extended to those off work during maternity or paternity leave.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, said: “This tax break does nothing to support those who choose to  sacrifice their salary and put  their careers on hold to stay at  home and look after their young children.”