Monday, 29 October 2012

United For All Ages Calls For Radical Solutions To Childcare Costs Crisis

We are waiting in anticipation for the response from the Childcare Commission, which is looking at how to reduce the costs of childcare for working families and burdens on childcare providers. The commission will look at relevant issues and consider key themes such as ways to encourage the provision of wraparound and holiday childcare, identifying any regulation that burdens childcare providers unnecessarily because it is not needed for reasons of quality or safety and how childcare supports families to move into sustained employment and out of poverty.

There are organisations all over the UK calling for solutions to the childcare costs crisis, here is what United For All Ages has to say:

Substantial extra funding by the government is needed to make childcare more affordable for parents, says United for All Ages. The Treasury must also review and simplify current funding to ensure it is used as well as possible.

The call comes as the government's childcare commission prepares its findings and the Resolution Foundation publishes its latest report, Counting the costs of childcare.

With British parents facing some of the highest childcare costs in Europe, many - particularly women - are finding it almost impossible to make work pay. Evidence from other countries shows that dropping out of work while having children has significant lifetime effects on women's income and on the economy.

United for All Ages says extra tax funding should be used as follows:
 - the offer of free fifteen hours early education for hours early education for all three and four year olds should be extended to all two year olds and providers must be properly funded for delivering this offer.
- the childcare element of the working tax credit should be improved to cover up to 85% of childcare costs for working parents on low incomes. It should also not be reduced for families using childcare for a second or third child - the childcare element of the working tax credit should cover up to 100% of childcare costs for parents entering work for the first six months.
- the tax exemption cap on employer-supported childcare vouchers should be raised to £75 a week.
- a national ‘oyster-style’ card should be introduced for all parents to pay for childcare. This card could include the childcare element of working tax credit and the tax exempt employer-supported childcare vouchers. It would ensure that help with childcare costs could only be used to pay for childcare while giving parents choice of childcare provider.

Denise Burke, director of United for All Ages, said: “Childcare costs British parents much more than elsewhere in Europe because the state subsidy is much lower here. Let’s not beat about the bush - radical reform is needed not more sticking plaster.

"We need to ensure that all the various funding streams are used as effectively as possible through a Treasury review. Then we must increase childcare funding and direct help much better. We must not compromise on quality - better funding not deregulation is the answer."

"It’s crucial for parents, children and our economy that we get this right now.”

 See www.unitedforallages.com for more, including The Childcare Funding Crisis report.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Lichfield company’s childcare voucher campaign secures Chamber Award


 


An innovative Lichfield company is proving that ‘Business is Good for Britain’ after launching a pioneering PR and marketing drive designed to raise awareness of childcare vouchers.

BusyBees Benefits, which employs 24 people in the City, has beaten off competition from across the region to secure ‘Marketing Campaign of the Year’ (sponsored by the RBS Group) in the West Midlands Chamber Awards 2012.

It has developed and successfully launched the ‘Mind the Gap - Raise the Cap’ campaign that explains to parents how they could sacrifice money from their salary in exchange for childcare vouchers.

The leading provider of employer and employee benefits has used a mix of media relations, advertising and social media to reach as many potential users as possible.

Busy Bees, which is a member of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group, has enjoyed an increase in the profile of the business and secured 9000 signatures for its e-petition, which calls for the Government to raise the current cap from £55 to £75 per week.

President of the British Chambers of Commerce Martyn Pellew said: “There has never been a more important time for businesses to showcase the amazing work they are doing on a day-to-day basis.

“The Chamber Awards is a perfect platform for them to do just that and receive the recognition and profile they deserve for helping move the economy forward and create employment, often in local areas.”

TheBritish Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Chamber Awards 2012 is committed to finding the best businesses in Britain through a series of regional heats followed by a National Final, due to be held at London’s Guildhall on November 29th.

Now in its 9th year, the competition is one of the showcase events for the ‘Business is Good for Britain’ campaign that highlights the role of business as a positive force for the UK recovery and the success of local communities and individuals.

BusyBees Benefits is one of eight regional winners in the West Midlands, who will now go forward and compete for the national titles in their respective categories. All will have a chance to win ‘Outstanding Business Achievement’ and a £25,000 cash prize courtesy of the RBS Group.

 Other successful companies in the region include:
  • Alumet Systems (Sustainability Award)
  • Concept Steels (Achievement in International Business)
  • Contact Group (Excellence in Innovation)
  • Soul Tree Wines (Most Promising New Business)
  • Jaguar Land Rover (Commitment to People Development)
  • Smith and Morris (Excellence in Customer Service Award and Business of the Year)
  • Viezu’s Paul Busby (Entrepreneur of the Year)

Martyn concluded: “A record number of firms have taken part this year, all determined to prove that ‘Business is Good for Britain!’”

The Chamber Awards 2012 is supported by the RBS Group, BT Business, Dell, DHL Express, Westfield Health and Acua Limited.

Peter Ibbetson, Chairman of Small Business Banking for RBS and NatWest said: "I'd like to congratulate all of the award winners on their achievements. We wanted to sponsor this award as, at a time when all businesses are dealing with difficult economic conditions, marketing for your business becomes even more of a priority and a key part of business success.

“As a bank we're keen to help all businesses meet their ambitions and it's important to celebrate this type of success along the way."



Thursday, 6 September 2012

Higher Rate Taxpayers: How You Could Turn Child Benefit Losses Into a Win-Win

Entitlement to Child Benefit is soon set to change for many higher rate tax payers, but there are ways to reduce the impact through salary sacrifice benefits such as childcare vouchers, says benefits provider, Busy Bees Benefits.

Some form of universal Child Benefit has existed since 1946, with Child Benefit as we now know it introduced in 1977. However, in a political move to get higher rate taxpayers to pay more and help to address the UK’s deficit, entitlement to Child Benefit is set to change from 7th January 2013.

After outcry from parents about the initial plans which would have affected all those in the higher rate tax band, only households where one parent earns over £50,000 will now be affected.  If one parent earns over £60,000, you’ll lose the benefit completely. The change is expected to affect over a million families and the average loss in household income from the benefit will be around £1,300.

Things are set to become more complicated for those earning between £50,000 and £60,000. If this applies to you, you will receive the full benefit, but will then have to complete a self-assessment form at the end of each tax year and will be charged extra income tax to offset the Child Benefit payments received. For example, if you have income of £54,000 and your partner receives Child Benefit for two children of £1,752 for a whole year, the charge will be 40% of the £1,752 Child Benefit = £700. The percentage is determined as follows £54,000 - £50,000 = 4000 /100 = 40%.

For thousands of workers earning a little over the £50,000 threshold, there is a way to reduce the impact on household income from this change. The entitlement to Child Benefit is calculated on the individual’s net income after adjustments such as salary sacrifice benefits have been deducted. So if you are not already taking Childcare Vouchers, operated as an HMRC-approved salary sacrifice scheme, now is the time to do so. (Other salary sacrifice benefits such as cycle to work, car leasing schemes and pensions will also help parents to maintain their child benefit.)

Higher rate taxpayers can currently sacrifice up to £124 per month (£1,488 per year) in exchange for vouchers to pay for a range of registered childcare up to the age of 16. So if your income is a little over £50,000 a year, taking advantage of Childcare Vouchers could take your net income below the threshold where Child Benefit changes would apply. This is a win-win situation - not only will you maintain the amount of Child Benefit you currently receive, you will also receive the tax benefit from taking Childcare Vouchers, which are non-taxable and National Insurance exempt. As a higher rate taxpayer, you can currently save up to £624 per year if you sacrifice the maximum allowance. Both working parents can join a scheme to increase these savings (up to £933 per year for a basic rate taxpayer).

Busy Bees Benefits has been actively campaigning to increase the amount employees can sacrifice in exchange for childcare vouchers since the thresholds have not increased since 2006. If the campaign is successful it would create more savings for all working parents using vouchers and allow more higher rate taxpayers to take advantage of the child benefit loophole by taking childcare vouchers. For higher rate taxpayers, savings would increase by over £200 if the campaign is a success. To support the campaign, readers can sign the e-petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31669.

If your employer offers a Childcare Voucher scheme, join it. If not, ask them to provide one – it’s a win-win situation for the employer too, decreasing their employer National Insurance contributions for every working parent on the scheme and improving staff recruitment, retention and morale.

If you earn just over £50,000 a year, reducing your net income by taking Childcare Vouchers could also mean you avoid having to complete a self-assessment tax return. HMRC estimates that around half a million people who previously didn’t have to complete a self-assessment form will have to do so as part of the changes to Child Benefit.

These changes are complicated and have been widely criticised as being unfair and unworkable. It is not based on combined household income, so two parents working and both earning just under £50,000 will keep all of their Child Benefit, whereas those with only one parent working and earning  just over £50,000 will not. Also the new rules include an expectation that couples disclose to each other whether they claim Child Benefit, or earn above £50,000 a year, undermining the long-held principle of individual taxation.

Whatever your view, it makes sense to do what you can to maximise your benefits and maintain your household income as far as possible while the changes are in place.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Keep the Sporting Legacy Alive with a Cycle to Work Scheme




Olympic fever has hit businesses all over the UK.  Since the start of the Games, sports clubs and venues have seen a rise in the numbers of people making enquiries and taking part in sports such as hand ball, gymnastics and BMX.

As well as raising interest in less well-known sports, the fantastic medal haul from UK 2012 cyclists on both track and road, making riders such as Victoria Pendleton, Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Lizzie Armistead household names, have inspired British workers to join Cycle to Work employee benefit schemes and keep on pedalling once the Games are over.

The Cycle to Work scheme is a HMRC-approved employee benefit which has been designed to allow organisations to offer employees the opportunity to purchase new bicycles and equipment worth up to £1000.  Operated as a salary sacrifice scheme, employees make tax and National Insurance savings as well as saving up to 50% on new bicycles and equipment.

JohnWoodward, MD of Busy Bees Benefits said:
“Organisations opting to run a Cycle to Work scheme can improve the health and fitness of their employees which will help to improve staff morale and physical and mental health.  Implementing this scheme can help to reduce congestion and parking issues, especially for those organisations in busy cities and towns.  Not only will supplying employees with new bicycles and equipment benefit staff, employers can also make National Insurance savings up to £138 per employee on the scheme.  Offering this valuable employee benefit can improve your competitive advantage as an employer, making you an employer of choice, attracting quality and skilled staff.”

For more information about Cycle to Work, call 0330 333 9100 or visit http://www.busybeesbenefits.com/cycle/

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Superscrimp with Busy Bees Benefits

Did you see Superscrimpers last night (8th August)? Mrs Moneypenny looked at how to save money on the cost of childcare and explained how childcare vouchers work. 

Are you a working parent inspired by the programme? Are you now thinking of using childcare vouchers? You could be a superscrimping champ if you take childcare vouchers from Busy Bees Benefits as you will also receive free access to retail discounts for use at high street shops, restaurants and attractions, helping you to save even more money, as well as up to £933 a year by using your childcare vouchers! Ask your employer about childcare vouchers and ask them if they provide a scheme.

As part of the UK’s largest childcare provider, we also offer emergency childcare if your current provider lets you down, plus 5% added to the value of your vouchers if you use them at a Busy Bees nursery.

Are you an employer considering offering a childcare voucher scheme or thinking of changing your provider? The retail discounts are available free to those using the online account for Busy Bees Childcare Vouchers, including the scheme administrator and childcare providers.

Busy Bees is also campaigning to save you even more. The amount of childcare vouchers a working parent can claim each week has been capped at £55 since 2006. Our Mind the Gap, Raise the Cap”campaign aims to raise this to £75 so that you can save even more on the cost of childcare and keep pace with rising costs. Sign our e-petition now to support the campaign and help make childcare more affordable.

If you would like to know more, call 0330 333 9100.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Never a Better Time to Introduce a Childcare Voucher Scheme

Family finances are under more pressure now than in the last nine years. Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that people had less disposable income after tax in the first quarter of 2012 than at any other time since 2003. Due to the recession, many businesses have had to take steps such as freezing pay and families have suffered from rising prices, particularly for expenses such as childcare.

At the same time the Department for Education has released figures showing that due to rises in the birth rate since 2010, numbers of children in maintained nursery and state-funded primary schools started increasing in 2010 and are projected to continue to rise. By 2020, numbers are forecast to be 18% higher than in 2012, reaching levels last seen in the 1970s. The total headcount of pupils aged under 5 in maintained nursery and state-funded schools is projected to reach a peak of 1.08 million in 2019, a 13% change on 2012. This rise does not take into account the numbers in privately run childcare.

With disposable income falling and the birth rate rising, businesses need to look at ways of rewarding staff whose incomes have effectively dropped and ensure they encourage skilled workers who have become parents back into work.

Childcare vouchers are the perfect way to achieve this. Parents can join a childcare voucher scheme, offered through their employer, to exchange part of their salary for childcare vouchers.  Savings are made as vouchers are non-taxable and National Insurance exempt. Childcare voucher users can currently save up to £933 per year. As well as helping parents to return to work by making childcare more affordable, working parents feel more valued and are able to make work pay. Businesses retain and attract trained staff and also benefit financially. If an employee takes the full amount of vouchers (currently £55 per week or £243 per month), a business can save over £400 per year per employee in employer National Insurance contributions.

What’s more, a campaign is underway which will help to address the issues of decreasing income and increasing numbers of parents in the workforce. The amount a parent can sacrifice from their salary in exchange for childcare vouchers has not changed since 2006 and so childcare vouchers have effectively been devalued.  Busy Bees Benefits’ ‘Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap’ campaign aims to persuade the Government to increase the weekly limit from £55 to £75. Raising the cap will increase the annual savings a parent can make by more than £300. The benefits for businesses will rise to a maximum saving of almost £550 per employee per year. At the centre of the campaign is an e-petition which has already attracted nearly 13,000 signatures. The aim is to get the cap increased in line with the 2013 Budget.

John Woodward, MD of Busy Bees Benefits said: “There are so many reasons for businesses to offer a childcare voucher scheme, it’s hard to believe there are so many businesses that still don’t have one. It’s quick and easy to set up, improves the morale and the pockets of working parents and saves employers money both directly and indirectly - from tax on salaries and by improving staff morale and retention. Our campaign aims to preserve the value of this benefit to help make childcare more affordable for working parents.” 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Win Sports Equipment Worth £250



The Olympics has us all interested in sports and getting fit.  Children will want to copy athletes and re-create Olympic sports with their friends at home and at school.  Encouraging children to participate in sports will not only keep them fit and healthy, it will also help to use up some of their energy, whilst helping to stimulate their brains and improve their concentration.

To celebrate the 2012 Olympics, Busy Bees Benefits are giving parents the opportunity to win £250 worth of sports equipment for their child’s school, nursery or childcare setting. 

Simply ‘like’ us on Facebook and ‘like’/’comment’ any post about the competition
or ‘follow’ and ‘retweet’ us on Twitter to be entered into a prize draw. 


Details
The competition will close on the 31st August 2012 and the winner will be drawn at random on Monday the 3rd September and notified via Facebook, on this page and on Twitter.

Busy Bees Benefits will send the winners sports equipment to their child’s school, nursery or other childcare setting within 2 weeks of being announced.  Arrangements to be made with the school, nursery or setting for delivery.

Terms and Conditions
Entrants can enter on both Facebook and Twitter.  The winner will be notified directly on Facebook and/or Twitter and will have 4 weeks to respond.  If the winner does not respond within this time another winner will be selected at random.

About Us
Busy Bees Benefits are a childcare voucher and other benefits provider. 
Childcare Vouchers are a government-initiated employee benefit scheme for working parents to save money on the cost of childcare.  Childcare vouchers can be used to pay for any registered childcare for children up to the age of 16. They operate as a salary sacrifice scheme which is available via employers allowing parents to sacrifice up to £55 per week for childcare vouchers.  Childcare vouchers are tax free and national insurance exempt, saving working parents up to £933 per year on the cost of their childcare.
For more information visit www.busybeesbenefits.com or click here to go to our childcare voucher guide.

Do you want to save more?
We are currently campaigning to increase the cap allowance from £55 to £75 per week which would increase savings to more than £1200 per parent, per year.

Help us to help you save more by signing our e-petition.

For more information visit our campaign page on our website.


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Childcare Vouchers Pay For Summer Holiday Schemes


The summer holidays are fast approaching; many parents find the forthcoming six weeks a stressful and expensive time.  Parents need to consider how much time they can have off work, what childcare is available and how much childcare and holiday activities will cost.
There are a wide range of childcare options available for the summer holidays, for children of all ages.  There are summer camps, holiday schemes, play groups, child minders, nurseries and out of school clubs. 

All of these are fun and exciting; children can experience activities they would not usually experience.  Sending children to summer camps and holiday schemes will help to encourage children to engage and experience working in groups with new children, take part in events and shows and encourage them to explore and discover new skills.

Knowing there is suitable childcare options will give parents the peace of mind they need when considering summer holiday childcare. However, the cost of sending children to camps and holiday schemes is an important factor.  Did you know you can use your childcare vouchers, taken as a salary sacrifice via your employer, to pay for the cost of most summer childcare options?  Parents can exchange up to £243 per month, which is non-taxable and national insurance exempt, from their salary.  They will then receive childcare vouchers to use to pay for their chosen childcare.

Using childcare vouchers can save working parents up to £933 per year from the cost of their childcare.  Both parents can join a childcare voucher scheme, increasing potential savings to over £1800 per year.  Be money savvy; if you intend to send your child to a camp or holiday scheme in the following year, you can save up childcare vouchers to pay for the costs.

Do you want to save more?
Busy Bees are campaigning to raise the weekly childcare voucher cap from £55 to £75 per week to help parents save more on the cost of their childcare.  Raising the cap will increase savings per parent to over £1200 per year.  If you want to save more sign the Busy Bees e-petition to help persuade the government to increase the cap.

For more information please visit www.busybeesbenefits.com

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Take Advantage of Tax Breaks on Cost of Independent Schools


It is a common perception that childcare vouchers are only used by middle income families to pay for nursery fees. In fact, childcare vouchers are available to almost all working parents* and can be used for older children to pay for a wide range of needs which are classed as “childcare”. Independent schools** may accept vouchers to pay fees for children aged 0 up to and including reception year. Beyond reception level, childcare vouchers can be used to pay for non-educational care and activities such as day trips and summer camps.

Childcare vouchers can provide significant savings no matter what rate of income tax a parent pays. Whilst a basic rate taxpayer can currently save up to £933 per year, a working parent paying 40% tax can save £624 per year and an additional rate taxpayer (50%), £605. If both parents work and take advantage of the maximum amount of childcare vouchers, these savings can be doubled.

Childcare vouchers are a simple, government-backed scheme offered via the employer. Parents can join a scheme to exchange part of their salary for childcare vouchers.  Savings are made as vouchers are non-taxable and National Insurance exempt.

Another benefit of childcare vouchers is that they are flexible. You do not have to use childcare vouchers in the week or month they are provided and you can save them up to use later. So, for example, you can start saving at the start of the tax year to pay for activities at the school your child will be attending in the autumn, or to pay for activities and care provided over the summer months. You will need to approach your child’s school to ask whether they accept payment with childcare vouchers and for which activities.

Childcare Voucher provider, Busy Bees Benefits is actively campaigning to increase thevalue of childcare vouchers for parents. The savings available have not changed since 2006, although fees for all forms of childcare have continued to rise.  Busy Bees’ ‘Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap’ campaign aims to persuade the government to increase the maximum weekly limit on how much salary a parent can sacrifice in exchange for childcare vouchers to a maximum of £75 per week to keep pace with rising costs.

The e-petition at the centre of the campaign already has over 12,000 signatures. The aim is to achieve an increase in the cap as part of the 2013 Budget.

For more information about the campaign visit www.busybeesbenefits.com.  

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Government Urged To Make Changes To Childcare Voucher System

Recent news headlines have been focusing heavily on childcare costs as they are currently one of the top burdens on UK families.  Childcare costs can take up to half of a parent’s salary and fees have continued to rise, with an increase of 6% in the last year alone1.  With the announcement from Prime Minister, David Cameron on the creation of a new government commission to look into childcare, the childcare sector are calling for changes to be made to the current system.

Childcare voucher provider, Busy Bees Benefits and the CVPA (Childcare Voucher Providers Association), with the support of other childcare organisations, are running campaigns to persuade the government to change the way the childcare voucher system works to make childcare costs more affordable for all working parents.  The current system is only available to those working parents employed by an organisation and the maximum an employee can choose to exchange, via salary sacrifice, is £55 per week.

Busy Bees Benefits ‘Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap’ campaign aims to increase the current childcare voucher cap from £55 to £75* to make childcare more affordable for working parents.  The current cap allowance has not changed since 2006 even though childcare costs have continued to rise.  Raising the cap to £75 will increase savings parents can make from £933 per year to over £1200 per parent.  As part of the Busy Bees Group, the UK’s largest childcare provider, Busy Bees Benefits understand the need for parents to provide affordable, quality childcare for their children.  A recent report2 has found that 20% of its respondents have turned down jobs and 38% have considered quitting their current job because they couldn’t afford to pay for childcare.  The campaign aims to bridge the gap between current voucher values and the increasing cost of childcare to help parents continue to work and afford childcare.

At the centre of the ‘Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap’ campaign is an e-petition which requires 100,000 signatures for the issue to be eligible for debate in the House of Commons.  This can be found at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31669.  Political backing for the campaign is important to make the government aware of the issue, Busy Bees have produced a downloadable letter on the campaign page on their website which can be simply amended and printed off for supporters to send to their local MP which will help to raising the awareness that working parents need more support.  Busy Bees Group CEO, John Woodward said:

“It is imperative that parents are able to work and still afford the childcare they need.  We want to make a difference to families, raising the childcare voucher cap will provide parents with additional savings giving them more to spend on their childcare costs.  If both parents in a household join a childcare voucher scheme they could potentially save over £2400 per year on the cost of their childcare if the campaign is successful.”

Together with other childcare organisations the CVPA are calling for the government to extend the availability of childcare vouchers to the self-employed.  The campaign which has the backing of CVPA members including Busy Bees Benefits, wants the government to provide an equal level of support to all working parents, regardless of whether they are employed or self-employed. 

As the government wants 2012 to be “the year of Enterprise” the CVPA campaign feels to achieve this they need to encourage more female entrepreneurs.  Entrepreneurship among women is low as only 26% of self-employed people are women3.  If the self-employed were able to use childcare vouchers more women would be able to start a business, giving them both the flexibility of working and family life with the added support of being able to afford childcare.  Visit the CVPA website to register your support for the campaign.

Both the Busy Bees Benefits campaign to raise the childcare voucher cap to increase the savings parents can make and the campaign to extend vouchers to the self-employed complement each other and strive for a fairer, more supportive childcare voucher system.
For more information about childcare vouchers and the Busy Bees campaign visit www.busybeesbenefits.com

Notes
1 - Daycare Trust’s Annual Childcare costs survey 2012
*Basic rate tax payers, based on individual circumstances. 

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Survey Says Employers Should Do More To Help With Childcare Costs


The cost of childcare is currently a hot topic, causing much debate and regularly making the headlines. The Government has now launched a Commission to look at the issue and the latest survey on this topic found that 47% of parents agreed that employers should do more to help meet childcare costs. 20% of parents responding to the survey have turned down jobs because they couldn't afford to pay for childcare.  38% of parents have even considered quitting their current job and 12% have actually left their job because of childcare costs.

Offering childcare vouchers to employees is one way employers can help.  Employees simply exchange part of their salary (up to £55 per week) for childcare vouchers, which are non-taxable and National Insurance exempt. This saves up to £933 per employee, per year on the cost of childcare.

However, the cap has not been changed to meet increasing costs since 2006. Hence BusyBees Benefits is already leading the way to improve life for working parents by actively campaigning to make childcare more affordable.  The ‘Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap’ campaign aims to persuade the government to increase the weekly childcare voucher cap allowance from £55 to £75. 

The e-petition at the centre of the Busy Bees campaign already has almost 9000 signatures. The aim is to get 100,000 signatures to see the cap increased in line with the 2013 Budget.  The e-petition can be found at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31669

Increasing the cap could save each parent in the scheme over £300 extra per year.  Not only will offering childcare vouchers attract and retain skilled staff, employers will also make savings as childcare vouchers do not attract employer National Insurance contributions.  Employers can currently save more than £400** per employee.

John Woodward, Busy Bees Group CEO said:
“It is clear that parents want to work and access affordable childcare without having to compromise on quality. Childcare vouchers are a simple and established scheme which already helps thousands of parents.  The scheme just needs to be improved to close the gap which has opened up between costs and childcare voucher values. It is in the interest of employers to offer a childcare voucher scheme to working parents who have valuable skills.  “Mindthe Gap – Raise the Cap” will help parents to work and pay for the childcare they would like for their children.  Employers will also benefit: by offering childcare vouchers they will be able to save up to £550 per employee, per year*.”

For more information about the campaign visit www.busybeesbenefits.com

Notes
* For basic rate tax payers and before service charge for operating the scheme. Service charges applied by Bees Bees Benefits are always less than employer National Insurance contributions.
·        

Monday, 25 June 2012

Use Childcare Vouchers To Pay For Summer Holiday Schemes




The summer holidays are fast approaching; many parents find the forthcoming six weeks a stressful and expensive time.  Parents need to consider how much time they can have off work, what childcare is available and how much childcare and holiday activities will cost.

There are a wide range of childcare options available for the summer holidays, for children of all ages.  There are summer camps, holiday schemes, play groups, child minders, nurseries and out of school clubs. 

All of these are fun and exciting; children can experience activities they would not usually experience.  Sending children to summer camps and holiday schemes will help to encourage children to engage and experience working in groups with new children, take part in events and shows and encourage them to explore and discover new skills.

Knowing there is suitable childcare options will give parents the peace of mind they need when considering summer holiday childcare. However, the cost of sending children to camps and holiday schemes is an important factor.  Did you know you can use your childcare vouchers, taken as a salary sacrifice via your employer, to pay for the cost of most summer childcare options?  Parents can exchange up to £243 per month, which is non-taxable and national insurance exempt, from their salary.  They will then receive childcare vouchers to use to pay for their chosen childcare.

Using childcare vouchers can save working parents up to £933 per year from the cost of their childcare.  Both parents can join a childcare voucher scheme, increasing potential savings to over £1800 per year.  Be money savvy; if you intend to send your child to a camp or holiday scheme in the following year, you can save up childcare vouchers to pay for the costs.

Do you want to save more?

Busy Bees are campaigning to raise the weekly childcare voucher cap from £55 to £75 per week to help parents save more on the cost of their childcare.  Raising the cap will increase savings per parent to over £1200 per year.  If you want to save more sign the Busy Bees e-petition to help persuade the government to increase the cap.


For more information please visit www.busybeesbenefits.com.

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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Mind the Gap - Raise the Cap Campaign Increases Its Supporters

Childcare arrangements and costs are a hot topic at the moment.  On the 30th May 2012 Nick Clegg joined the Daybreak team to discuss the announcement of changes to the childcare system.
Daybreak, the morning news program on ITV, visited Busy Bees St Matthews Burntwood nursery to interview nursery manager Caroline Cooper about the changes being introduced to the government funding on childcare places.  You can see the interview and full feature here.
During the feature an interviewee on the street was asked how the changed would affect her, she said: “It wouldn’t make any difference because I work full time anyway, so I wouldn’t have been able to use it either side.  What would be a bigger benefit is the childcare voucher allowance being increased.”
Concurrent with the increasing attention on the issue of childcare costs, Busy Bees Benefits recently launched the ‘Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap’ campaign. The campaign aims to raise the weekly childcare voucher cap from £55 to £75 to help make childcare more affordable for working parents.  The £55 cap has not changed since 2006 although childcare costs have continued to rise.  For more information about the campaign please visit our website. 
There is growing pressure for the childcare voucher allowance to be increased; this would mean that working parents can make tax and national insurance savings when taking childcare vouchers to help pay for their childcare.
You can help to support the campaign by signing the e-petition.
For more information about childcare vouchers and how they can help you save money, please visit www.busybeesbenefits.com.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

KiddiVouchers Backs "Mind the Gap - Raise the Cap" Campaign

Busy Bees Benefits launched its “Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap” campaign in May and is pleased to announce that childcare voucher provider KiddiVouchers is now supporting the campaign.
Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap” aims to persuade the government to raise the amount of salary a working parent can sacrifice in exchange for childcare vouchers from £55 to £75 per week. The current maximum of £55 has not changed since 2006. A rise will help close the gap which has opened up between the increasing cost of childcare and the value of childcare vouchers and help working parents save more on the cost of childcare.
Alison Chalmers, Director at KiddiVouchers, said:
“The cost of childcare remains a hot topic, with childcare often costing parents as much as their mortgage.  Childcare vouchers provide a powerful economic stimulus, by encouraging parents to return to work, by helping to fund high quality early education and by assisting employers who are striving to be family-friendly.  The childcare voucher system includes careful controls to ensure funds can only be spent on regulated childcare, meaning that this scheme is more accurately targeted than other types of support.  With every penny spent on childcare vouchers going straight back into the economy, we believe this proposal fits well with the Government’s austerity plus growth agenda. ”
At the centre of the campaign is an e-petition by Busy Bees Group Managing Director, John Woodward. This can be found at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31669 and is open until March 2013. The aim is to achieve 100,000 signatures, to make the issue eligible for debate in the House of Commons, leading to a policy change in the 2013 Budget.
John Woodward said:
“We are delighted that KiddiVouchers have joined the Busy Bees campaign. There is always a healthy competition between childcare voucher providers, but it is nice to see that supporting the interests of working parents is actually the reason we are in business”.
The campaign has initially been rolled out via Busy Bees nurseries and Busy Bees Benefits customers and has attracted significant attention in the press and on social media. The e-petition has already attracted support from over 3000 signatories.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Busy Bees Campaigns to Make Childcare More Affordable

During these difficult economic times, working families are finding the management of their finances even more of a challenge. Childcare costs can take up to half of a parent’s salary and fees have continued to rise, with an increase of 6% in the last year alone.1  Parents obviously want the best standard of childcare for their children, but with finances being squeezed, many are finding that the choice they make is based on affordability rather than quality.
In the context of these financial pressures, Busy Bees Benefits has launched a national campaign to help working parents save more on the cost of childcare. The “Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap” campaign aims to persuade the government to raise the weekly childcare voucher cap allowance from £55 to £75.
Childcare vouchers are an employee benefit used to pay for any registered childcare for children up to the age of 16.  Any working parent can use childcare vouchers if their employer provides a scheme. At the centre of the campaign is an e-petition by Busy Bees Group Managing Director, John Woodward. This can be found at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31669. The aim is to achieve 100,000 signatures, to make the issue eligible for debate in the House of Commons, leading to a policy change in the 2013 Budget.
The campaign has initially been rolled out via Busy Bees nurseries and has already created a buzz amongst staff and parents whose children attend one of the 146 sites across the UK. Clients of Busy Bees Benefits – employers with a Busy Bees childcare voucher scheme, carers who accept Busy Bees childcare vouchers and parents who use them to help meet their childcare costs - have also been told about the campaign and asked to sign the petition.
John Woodward said:
“The cap allowance was set by the government at £55 per week and this has not changed since 2006.  As the UK’s largest provider of childcare, serving more than 15,000 children, we understand the pressures on working parents. We would like to help parents as much as possible, however we must be realistic. We want the campaign to receive the attention it deserves from the government and achieve its aim. Therefore, we think that £75 is an achievable target, which will make a real difference to working parents. With the cap at £75, basic rate taxpayers taking the maximum amount in childcare vouchers could save over £300 extra per year, with total savings amounting to over £1200 per parent, per year.”
The Daycare Trust’s survey revealed that average childcare costs are now over £100 for a part-time place (25 hours) in many areas of the country. The average yearly spend on childcare for a child under two is £5,103.
Business benefit
In addition to helping parents, childcare vouchers help businesses to attract and retain experienced staff, which is particularly important in the current tough economic climate.
By providing a childcare voucher scheme, businesses also benefit by saving on employer National Insurance contributions. Under current rates, if a working parent sacrifices the maximum amount of £243 per month in return for childcare vouchers, a business can save over £400 per year for a basic rate taxpayer2 taking childcare vouchers.  If the cap were to rise to £75 per week, savings per scheme user, per year, paying basic rate tax would rise to almost £550.
For more information about the campaign visit www.busybeesbenefits.com.

·         1 Daycare Trust’s Annual Childcare costs survey 2012
·         2 before service charge for operating the scheme. Service charges applied by Bees Bees Benefits are always less than employer National Insurance contributions.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Busy Bees Ensures Employers Don't Fall Foul of Minimum Wage Legislation

Offering Childcare Vouchers as an employee benefit is a great way to help working parents meet their childcare costs and aid recruitment and retention of experienced staff. Workers near the minimum wage are often those most in need of this benefit to help them pay for childcare. If Childcare Vouchers are operated as a salary sacrifice scheme, it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that once deductions have been made, no employee’s salary falls below the National Minimum Wage levels. If this check is not made, the employer could fall foul of the law.

A recent case cost a major company £35k after an investigation by the HMRC for just this situation. Whilst an employee agrees that their wages are effectively cut in exchange for benefits, it is up to the employer to check they are not paid less than the current minimum wage rate of £6.08 per hour (for staff aged over 21).

Busy Bees Benefits has always prided itself on excellent customer service in terms of the operation of the scheme, ease of registration, support and service standards. When signing up to its Childcare Voucher scheme, employees complete a basic earnings assessment electronically which asks them to declare their gross earnings and any pre-tax outgoings – including any other salary sacrifice schemes such as cycle to work, some pension schemes and some car schemes. The system then automatically calculates whether or not they would fall below the minimum wage threshold. If the amount of vouchers they request takes them past the lower limit, the system automatically tells them the maximum amount of vouchers they can claim, or lets them know if they cannot request Childcare Vouchers at all. Busy Bees Benefits is also ensuring that existing scheme users are not breaching legislation by requesting that the employee re-enters their salary details annually.

John Woodward, managing director of Busy Bees Benefits, said: “It is important that as a Childcare Voucher provider, we help our customers – both employers operating our scheme and parents requesting our vouchers – to remain compliant with legislation. Our system is easy to understand, will take customers just a matter of moments to complete and ultimately protects vulnerable employees whilst helping busy employers meet their legal obligations. ”