Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Will the Car Always Be King?


In research published this week, 62.7% of employed people aged 16-74 get to work by car. Other forms of transport included train, bus, motorcycle, moped or scooter, taxi or on foot.

Surprisingly, in England and Wales only 2.9% of the employed workforce chose to get to work by bike. Even in London this rises to only 4.0%. This shows that the car is still very much king when it comes to the daily commute, despite the fact that the average journey length in England and Wales is around 10 miles.

There is still clearly some work to be done in persuading people to use a bike to get to work, despite the fact that by using a cycle to work scheme offered by their employer, workers can get hold of a bike and any necessary equipment for around half price and pay for it over a year or more. Here is a reminder of all the positive reasons for taking to the saddle.

The bike is a free gym on wheels. That average 10 mile commute would take around 45 minutes to an hour by bike. If you want to improve your health and fitness without breaking the bank, start pedalling.

Cycling to work means you’ll arrive more alert and refreshed and will leave with better morale than your car-driving colleagues.

You will be able to
  • avoid the traffic jams
  • take a more scenic route
  • avoid having to hunt around for a parking space on arrival.
You’ll save money too – a seven-mile commute by car costs over £350 per year in petrol. Not to mention the cost of the car, road tax, maintenance and insurance.

Those who cycle to work take fewer sick days. This may because they are fitter generally, but also may be because they are less exposed to other people compared to getting to work on public transport. This not only benefits your employer and the wider economy, it’s better for you. Who wants to be stuck at home feeling unwell while the work continues to pile up?

With the New Year almost here, it’s a good time to reconsider how you make your way to work, whether your pledge to yourself is to get fitter, help the environment or save money. Even if you can only see yourself as a fair-weather cyclist, you’ll make a difference to your waistline, your pocket and the environment.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Busy Bees Benefits Receives Ringing Endorsement

Busy Bees Benefits has just completed the 2013 customer survey for its childcare voucher service and is delighted with the response. Views came flooding in from employees, employers and childcare providers.

Employees were overwhelmingly positive about their customer experience, with 97% saying they would recommend our childcare vouchers to other parents.

Busy Bees Benefits knows that working parents are busy people and wants to make the process of paying for their childcare as easy as possible, so were delighted to hear that 96% of employees found their Busy Bees Benefits online Childcare Voucher account very easy or relatively easy to use.

99% of employees were happy with the customer service they received, and 83% rated it as excellent.

Employers offering Busy Bees Benefits childcare vouchers to their staff said that their registration to the scheme was handled well (98%), their online account was easy to use (96.8%) and that our service is above average or excellent (92%). In fact the user-friendly, online account and customer service were the two top scorers amongst employers’ favourite things about Busy Bees Benefits. 97% of employers said they would be likely to recommend Busy Bees Benefits to other companies.


Amongst childcare providers being paid with Busy Bees Benefits childcare vouchers, 94% said they would recommend them to parents and other carers.

Busy Bees Benefits is always striving to improve to maintain standards such as ISO 9001 and uphold our standing for customer service, having been shortlisted for two awards in 2013 for customer service and service provision.

CEO John Woodward said: “We conduct these surveys because we care about our customers’ opinions and are not afraid to hear suggestions and criticisms. We are delighted with the responses we have received and will continue to build on the great service Busy Bees Benefits has developed over the last three years.”

Busy Bees Benefits conducts regular customer surveys and is delighted to receive any suggestions, questions or comments at any time. Email information@busybeesbenefits.com or call 0330 333 9100.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Show Your Car Some Love This Winter


Winter is often unkind to our cars with snow, ice, rain, cold and road salt causing slow starts, no starts, corrosion and wear. More importantly, we are often unkind to our cars.

Most people don’t maintain their car themselves these days due to lack of time, expertise and confidence. We therefore need to take time (and money) out to arrange for professionals to look after them for us. It’s easy to forget to do this regularly. We can be a bit too laid back about car care and then have a shock when bad weather arrives and our four-wheeled friend doesn’t behave as it should.

So what can go wrong?
  • Oil, particularly old oil, thickens in cold weather which means the engine has to work harder, causing engine wear.
  • Wiper blades get more use in winter and can deteriorate even more quickly if used on an icy windscreen.
  • Tyres can become more unevenly worn in winter as they don’t grip the road as effectively in bad weather. Tyre pressure can drop in cold weather too, leading to further problems and higher fuel consumption.
  • Light bulbs can fail, making an accident more likely. British Summer Time has now ended and the days are shorter, so it’s more likely you will be driving in the dark.
  • An old battery which might have struggled on before the temperature hit freezing point is more likely to fail in cold weather, which could leave you stranded.

How to make sure it gets put right

Organising vehicle repairs, maintenance, servicing, MOTs and tyre replacements can be a stressful and expensive exercise. Many garages offer a free winter car check, but of course this is to attract you in and create further business, so if you aren’t confident in dealing with a garage directly, you may feel you are paying for services and repairs you don’t need.

There is a scheme which takes away all these concerns and ensures your car receives only the love and care it really needs when it needs it. The Car Care scheme, delivered by Busy Bees Benefits through its experienced partners, provides motorists with a simple, cost-effective vehicle maintenance solution at any one of 15,000 approved service centres and includes scheduled reminders for MOT, servicing and repairs organised by qualified technicians. Members of the Car Care scheme will receive discounted parts and tyres.

Even if you have done everything you can to care for your car, unfortunately it might still let you down. Members of the scheme can add breakdown cover for just £2 per year. This includes access to Car Care’s national breakdown service.

So show your car some love and take care on the road this winter.

For more information about Busy Bees Benefits, click here.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Busy Bees Benefits Finalist For Regional Award


Employee benefits provider Busy Bees Benefits has been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2014 Midlands Business Awards. The Shenstone-based company entered the category “Midlands Service Provider of the Year”.

Busy Bees Benefits are specialists in the provision of high-quality childcare voucher schemes for employers, parents and childcare providers. They also offer a range of other employee benefits including salary sacrifice schemes for mobile phones and cycling to work and discount schemes to save on lifestyle costs including shopping, car care and writing a will.

John Woodward, CEO at Busy Bees Benefits said “We are delighted to have been shortlisted for the final of this regional award. The company has been trading for three years and has demonstrated that the right team and the right approach together produce great results. The business is going from strength to strength and our unique processes and consistent high standards ensure we provide the best service we possibly can.”


For more information about Busy Bees Benefits, visit http://www.busybeesbenefits.com

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Give Your Employees Lasting Benefit


There are many benefits products out there which you could offer your employees, from the popular childcare vouchers to cars and bikes. However, as we know, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and many employee benefits will only be relevant to a section of your workforce. If you want to offer something different which will truly make a lasting difference for every employee, offer a will writing service.

Many people don’t have a will, and they can be forgiven for thinking they don’t need one yet, particularly if they are young. But young or old, male or female, single or in a relationship, people want their possessions to go to the people they love if they died and want to be sure their family is provided for.

A will provides employees with the opportunity to express their funeral desires, appoint guardians for children, protect their partner if they are not married and minimise inheritance tax. Dying without a will means this may not happen in the way they want. Their possessions will have the Rules of Intestacy applied and these rules follow the family tree in a strict order of priority.

To make sure a will is legal and to be sure loved ones know it exists, it is best to have the document written by a solicitor. It won’t take long. In fact solicitors spend more time sorting out badly-written wills than writing new ones!

Busy Bees Benefits CEO, John Woodward said: “If you want to give a lasting benefit to employees offering them the opportunity to write a will is a really beneficial step and sends the message that you care about them and their families now and in the future. They can take up this voluntary benefit any time during the year at a discounted cost and be assured they are working with a qualified solicitor who will work closely with them to ensure their wishes are met.”

The will writing service is a discounted employee benefit which is completely free for the employer to offer.


For more information about the Busy Bees Benefits Will Writing scheme, click here.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Rise in Minimum Wage: Ensure You Comply With 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. If Childcare Vouchers are operated as a salary sacrifice scheme, 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.

From 1 October 2013, the adult rate for National Minimum Wage will increase by 12p to £6.31 an hour.

Busy Bees Benefits has always prided itself on excellent customer service in terms of the operation of the Childcare Voucher scheme, ease of registration, support and service standards. When registering for Busy Bees Benefits Childcare Vouchers, employees complete a basic earnings assessment electronically. They are asked to declare their gross earnings and any pre-tax outgoings – including any other salary sacrifice schemes such as cycle to work and pension schemes. The Busy Bees Benefits system then automatically calculates whether or not these deductions would mean 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.

John Woodward, CEO of Busy Bees Benefits, said: “Busy Bees Benefits prides itself on great customer service and making life as easy as possible for employers operating our scheme and parents requesting our vouchers. Ensuring employers remain compliant with legislation is part of this service. Our system is simple to use, takes customers a minute to complete and protects employees whilst helping busy employers meet their legal obligations. ”


For further information visit www.busybeesbenefits.com or call 0330 333 9100.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Employers Should Make Their Voices Heard on New Tax-free Childcare

Busy Bees Benefits, is encouraging businesses to have their say about the Government’s proposed Tax-free Childcare scheme.  The employee benefits provider conducted a survey of employers in July which demonstrated that there is currently a lack of awareness and understanding of the proposed scheme. From the autumn of 2015, working parents will be required to pay 80% of their child’s childcare costs and the Government will top it up with the remaining 20%.  This will apply to childcare costs of up to £6,000 per child, per year, saving working parents up to £1,200 per child, per year.





In Busy Bees Benefits’ survey, 70% of employers did not know that the scheme would only apply initially to children up to the age of 5 and eventually would be for children aged under 12 (eligibility for disabled children will be up to 16). The current Childcare Voucher scheme applies to all children up to the age of 16.A twelve-week consultation on the new scheme is asking for views on how it should be operated. Busy Bees Benefits is responding to the consultation in its own right and is working to get the best deal for employers who want to be involved. So, as with the current Childcare Voucher scheme, Busy Bees Benefits is asking the Government to ensure that if employers choose to continue to run a scheme for their employees, any administrative costs they pay on behalf of their staff are treated as a trivial benefit and will not require reporting on P11D submissions. Businesses who would like to avoid wading through the whole consultation document can give their views on the relevant section in Busy Bees Benefits’ survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HJFLXNZ



Employers who could benefit from NI savings of up to £402 per year for each employee on the current Childcare Voucher scheme, will not receive any savings under Tax-free Childcare. However, there are other intangible benefits for employers if they take a role in communicating to their employees and potential recruits about financial help with childcare. To help recruit the best candidate for a role, it is in employers’ interests to share information about the financial support available for parents. The same goes for providing information to those staff about to start maternity, paternity or adoption leave. These employees may think that returning to work is not an option for them, but with the support from Tax-free Childcare, it may make financial sense for them to do so.


To ensure that all working parents get as much support as possible with childcare costs, employers should offer a Childcare Voucher scheme now. More information can be found at http://www.busybeesbenefits.com/employers/scheme-information.php


Busy Bees Benefits takes the position that the level of support should be higher when the Tax-free Childcare scheme is launched, and that to continue to provide meaningful support, it will need to keep pace with rising costs. You can sign an epetition to support this proposal at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/48405.


*Busy Bees Benefits employer survey on Tax-free Childcare received responses from 103 employers and was conducted from 17th July 2013.



Monday, 19 August 2013

Back to school – how can you maximise your savings?

As the summer holidays are coming to a close, it’s time to go shopping for new school uniform and begin preparing your children for the new school year.

The six week summer break can be costly. As a parent, you have to deal with time off work, holiday childcare and trips away which all put pressure on the family finances. So what can you do to reduce costs when your children return to school?  


Childcare Vouchers are available from your employer.  You can choose to have up to £243** deducted from your wages each month in return for a Childcare Voucher of the same value. Vouchers are deducted before tax and National insurance is calculated, saving you up to £933** per year.

It is a common misconception for working parents to believe that Childcare Vouchers can only be used to help fund registered childcare for children under five.  They can also be used for school-age children, up to the age of 16, to pay for out of school clubs and activity camps.


Your children can enjoy the provision of a wide range of activities and by using Childcare Vouchers; you can enjoy the benefits of the financial savings available.

Remember to check before booking childcare that the provider activity accepts Childcare Vouchers as payment.

For more information about how you can start saving using Childcare Vouchers visit www.busybeesbenefits.com.

**subject to individual circumstances 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Government gives a push on pedal power: The perfect time to start cycling to work

This week, the government has announced that it will be funding a £94 million pound initiative to support the promotion of cycling in England. Eight cities and four national parks across the country will share the benefits of improvements to existing cycle routes and the creation of new ones.
The introduction of new cycle networks will help to make cycling more accessible to all. Is it time for you to take to two wheels and make cycling part of your daily commute? By joining a cycle to work scheme, you can join those already on their bikes and save yourself money along the way.

Cycling to work instead of using the car can help you to avoid the costs of fuel and parking; you won’t get stuck in a traffic jam and if you currently use public transport it will save you the cost of ever-rising rail and bus fares. Alongside these benefits you will feel physically and mentally healthier. Cycling will also help you to cut greenhouse gases and do your bit for the environment.


Not got a bike?

Good quality bikes and equipment can be costly. The Cycle to Work Scheme is a voluntary benefit offered by employers.  Ask your employer to offer the Cycle to Work scheme to enable you to purchase new bicycles and equipment worth up to £1000 and save up to 50% off the retail price. If your employer doesn't already have a scheme in place, ask them if they will offer it.

Not only does the Cycle to Work employee benefit scheme save you money, it can also save your employer up to £138 per employee on the scheme. You simply pay for your bicycle and equipment over a 12 or 18-month period through your salary and at the same time save money on your tax and National Insurance contributions. After this period you can then pay the remaining balance to transfer the ownership of the bicycle and equipment, similar to a hire purchase but with tax savings.

Riding on the roads? 

The £94 million pound developments aim to make cycling safer, but there are a few things to consider:

  • Make sure you are fully visible and protected with all of the essentials - again you can save on these through the Cycle to Work scheme; including a bell, front and rear lights and a helmet.
  • If you want to carry things such as a bag, a laptop or your lunch to work, panniers or baskets are available too.
  • A pump is essential for maintenance, as is a lock to make sure your bike doesn't disappear after your first journey!
  • You won’t need any special clothing, but some waterproofs in case it rains are a good investment. 



Visit www.busybeesbenefits.com for more information about Cycle to Work. Contact Busy Bees Benefits if you are interested in saving with the Cycle to Work scheme and they will contact your employer for you.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Saving on childcare is now a greater priority as holiday care costs top £100 per week





Childcare and the cost of childcare regularly hits the headlines and a latest survey* reveals summer holiday childcare can cost more than £100 per week.

For some parents finding and paying for suitable childcare during the summer holidays can be a difficult task.  Latest figures suggest that one in five parents with children under the age of 15 use some form of formal childcare including holiday clubs, play schemes and youth clubs during the six week break.

The cost of childcare and the availability of childcare can lead to certain pressures being placed on families and their budgets.  Therefore, it may be more beneficial for parents to take unpaid leave from work to provide their own childcare.  Childcare Vouchers are a simple way for working parents to reduce these necessary costs.

Childcare Vouchers are available from employers for working parents to save money on their childcare.  Parents can choose to have up to £243** deducted from their wages each month in return for the same amount of Childcare Vouchers to be used to pay for any registered childcare for children up to the age of 16.  This amount is taken from parents’ wages before tax and National Insurance, saving up to £933** per year.

Both parents can join their employer’s Childcare Voucher scheme to potentially double these savings to more than £1,800** per year.

John Woodward, MD at Busy Bees Benefits said: “Even if you don’t use childcare regularly and only tend to use it during school holidays, it’s worth joining your employer’s Childcare Voucher scheme because you can store vouchers up throughout the year to make holiday childcare more affordable.”

Speak to your employer to join their Childcare Voucher scheme and start saving today.  If your employer doesn’t have a scheme, contact Busy Bees Benefits and they will get in touch to set a scheme up.

For more information about how you can start saving using Childcare Vouchers, visit www.busybeesbenefits.com.

** Subject to individual circumstances.    

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Introducing our new campaign


Last year Busy Bees Benefits campaigned to make childcare more affordable by calling on the Government to raise the cap on Childcare Vouchers. This campaign received an overwhelming response and it is clear that working parents want more financial support with their childcare costs to enable them to continue to work.

The Government has since announced that to help working parents with their childcare costs they are launching a new Tax-free Childcare scheme in 2015.

There are however, many working parents who will be worse off under this new scheme compared to using Childcare Vouchers.

The Government’s new Tax-free Childcare scheme will be available to households where both parents work and to lone working parents. The funding will be offered per child for children under the age of 5.

Busy Bees Benefits is dedicated to helping parents save money on their childcare costs and have launched their new ‘Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap’ campaign to help to do this.

About the campaign:

Under the new scheme, the Government will be contributing 20% of childcare costs. The 20% subsidy will apply to childcare costs of up to £6,000 per child, per year, saving up to £1,200 per child, per year, for children under the age of 5.

Childcare costs rise each year in line with staff costs as the largest outgoing for childcare providers is wages. The average cost of childcare is currently £7,500, therefore, not only is the £6,000 cap already below average, by the time the scheme is implemented the gap between the savings available and the cost of childcare will have widened further.

Consequently, to preserve the value of the Tax-free Childcare scheme, the Government would need to increase the cap each year. 

An e-petition has been set up which aims to:

  • Prompt the Government to increase the cap in line with rises in childcare costs before the scheme is implemented. 
  • Persuade the Government to commit to reviewing and increasing the cap annually in line with National Minimum Wage changes. 
*Figures derived from Laing & Buisson Children’s Nurseries UK Market Report 2012 

The e-petition:

What can you do to help?

  1. Sign the e-petition. 100,000 signatures are required to make the issue eligible for debate in the House of Commons.
  2. Ask all your friends, colleagues and family to sign the petition. 
  3. Follow us on Twitter and retweet links about the campaign. 
  4. Like us on Facebook and share links about the campaign.
For more information about the campaign please visit www.busybeesbenefits.com

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Benefits of Pedal Power


If you want to keep fit but hate sport, don’t find the time for exercise and are put off by the cost of joining a gym, what can you do to fight the flab and feel better?

Have you ever thought of cycling? There has never been a better time to take to the road with pedal power. Bike Week runs from 15th – 23rd June and is designed to encourage “everyday cycling for everyone”. What’s more, it’s National Cycle to Work Day on 21st June.

Cycling could save you thousands on fuel and parking costs; you won’t get stuck in a traffic jam and if you currently use public transport it will save you the ever-rising rail and bus fares. Alongside these benefits you will feel physically and mentally healthier. Cycling will also help you to cut greenhouse gases and do your bit for the environment.  Recent research by the Cycle to Work Alliance* showed that carbon emissions were reduced by well over 100,000 tonnes per year as a result of people travelling to work using the Cycle to Work scheme.

If you want a good bike and the right equipment but are worried about the cost, you can ask your employer to offer the Cycle to Work scheme, which is approved by HMRC as an employee benefit. It’s designed to allow companies to give staff the opportunity to buy new bicycles and equipment worth up to £1000.  Ask your employer if they have it. If they don’t, ask them if they will offer it.

Cycle to Work could save you and your employer money – a company could save up to £138 per employee on the scheme. You could save up to £410. You simply give up part of your salary to pay for the bike and will not be taxed on it. After a year or 18 months you can then pay the remainder to buy the bike. It’s like a hire purchase with tax savings. You could save up to 50% of the original cost of the bike and equipment too. Let your employer know that they will also save indirectly because employees who cycle to work take fewer sick days.

You may think cycling to work would take longer but for short journeys up to a few miles, it can take less time as you can take different routes to cars, avoid jams and won’t have to look for a parking space at your destination.

The Cycle to Work Alliance research* also shows that fewer women take up cycling, but there are lots of reasons to do it. If you have children, it’s great to set an example by being an active parent and by showing them how to ride safely. Building daily exercise into the journey you would make to work anyway will make you fitter and save on time and money on other fitness activities. If you’ve got a few hills on your way to work which are putting you off making the journey on two wheels, you could even buy an electric bike to help you on your way.

If you are concerned about safety, make sure you buy the essentials – again you can save on these through the Cycle to Work scheme – including a bell, front and rear lights and a helmet. If you want to carry things such as a bag, a laptop or your lunch to work, buy panniers or a basket too. A pump is essential for maintenance, as is a lock to make sure your bike doesn’t disappear after your first journey! You won’t need any special clothing, but some waterproofs in case it rains are a good investment. If the weather is bad, remember that even just being a fair-weather cyclist will get you fitter and create environmental and financial savings.

Visit www.busybeesbenefits.com for more information about Cycle to Work. Contact Busy Bees Benefits if you are interested in saving with the Cycle to Work scheme and they will contact your employer for you.

Happy pedalling!


Thursday, 6 June 2013

Give Dads the Benefit of Childcare Vouchers this Father's Day



Despite the fact that Childcare Vouchers have been around for a number of years, some myths and misunderstandings still exist about this employee benefit. Families often think they are for mums who return to work, but Childcare Vouchers are available for dads too and in many families dads are still the only working parent.

Better than a pair of socks or a box of chocs, employers can give the gift of big savings to working parents, saving them up to £933 a year on the cost of registered childcare, says Busy Bees Benefits. What father wouldn’t want that? Father’s Day, on 16th June, is a great time to send a message to working dads that they are valued in the workplace by helping to make their childcare costs more affordable.

Childcare Vouchers are basically a tax break to help parents pay for childcare.  Parents give up part of their salary each week or month and do not have to pay tax or National Insurance on that portion of their wages, which are used to pay directly for a wide range of registered childcare. This can save a working parent up to £933* a year if they are a basic rate taxpayer. If both parents work and join a scheme, these savings can be doubled. For every employee who takes Childcare Vouchers, the employer will save money in Employer National Insurance contributions, up to £402** a year.

It’s also worth knowing that the Childcare Voucher scheme may only be open until Autumn 2015, when the Government is expected to launch the Tax-free Childcare scheme***. Savings for some families will be smaller under the new scheme and there will be no direct savings for employers. Only families where both parents work will benefit from the new scheme, so it is even more important to ensure that dads know about Childcare Vouchers. Offering a Childcare Voucher scheme now will bring employee and employer savings for the next two and a half years, at which point the Childcare Voucher scheme is expected to close to new entrants. Parents already receiving Childcare Vouchers should then be able choose which scheme is best for them. It is expected that after that, Childcare Vouchers will be available to existing users for 5 years, which means a further 5 years of savings (over £2000** per scheme member) for businesses too.

For more information about how you can start saving using Childcare Vouchers visit www.busybeesbenefits.com.

*Subject to individual circumstances.
·         **Maximum savings before service charge is applied.
·         ***Details are subject to Government consultation

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Plan Now for a Stress-free Summer



After a long winter, the temperature is warming up and summer is just around the corner.

If you’re a working parent, you’ll know that while summer brings sunshine (sometimes!), picnics and fun days, it also brings the headache of paying for additional childcare on the days you are at work.

Many parents find the long summer school holidays a stressful and expensive time. Planning ahead is vital, taking into consideration how much time you can take off work, the range of childcare available and how much it will cost.

There are many childcare options available for the summer holidays, for children of all ages, including summer camps, holiday schemes, play schemes, child minders and nurseries. All of these can provide great learning experiences and lots of fun for kids, where they can make new friends and acquire new skills.

Working parents can use Childcare Vouchers, taken as a salary sacrifice via employers, to pay for the cost of most summer childcare options.  Parents can exchange up to £243* per month from their salary for a voucher, which is non-taxable and national insurance exempt, bringing annual savings of up to £933*.  Both parents can join a Childcare Voucher scheme, increasing potential savings to over £1800* per year.

If you’re booking summer holiday activities now, ask your employer if they have or will set up a Childcare Voucher scheme and also check that the childcareprovider accepts vouchers as payment.  Remember, Childcare Vouchers aren’t just for small children – they can be used up to the 1st September after your child’s 15th birthday (or 16 if they are disabled).

John Woodward, MD at Busy Bees Benefits said: “Even if you don’t use childcare regularly and only tend to use it during school holidays, it’s worth swapping a part of your salary for Childcare Vouchers each month because you can store them up through the year to make holiday childcare more affordable.”

Childcare Vouchers: a quick guide
  • Childcare Vouchers are available to working parents via their employer. Childcare vouchers are a benefit so parents must ask their employer to provide them. The employer will save money too, so it’s worth them offering the scheme as part of their benefits package.
  • Once the employer agrees to provide Childcare Vouchers, the parent simply registers on the scheme, stating how much they would like to deduct from their wages each pay day in return for the vouchers.
  • Parents can currently exchange up to £243* per month.
  • The amount exchanged for vouchers is deducted from the employee’s wages and no tax and National Insurance is taken. Parents then pay their childcare provider with the vouchers. Taking Childcare Vouchers, means that parents can save up to £933* per year in tax and National Insurance savings.
  • Childcare Vouchers can be used to pay for any registered childcare provider for children up to the 1st September after their 15th birthday, or up to the age of 16 if they are disabled.

For more information about how you can start saving using Childcare Vouchers visit www.busybeesbenefits.com.

*Basic Rate tax payers, subject to individual circumstances.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Cycle to Work Saves over 100,000 tonnes of CO2




The continuing benefits of cycling to work have been highlighted by the latest research into this valuable employee benefit. Commuters who would otherwise use the car to get to work, having benefited from the Cycle to Work scheme, are saving 112,210 tonnes of CO2 in reduced car emissions each year.

Cycle to Work schemes help deliver sustainable transport, reduce congestion and improve the environment. They also create direct health, well-being and financial savings for individuals who take up the scheme. The research showed that 550,000 people have enjoyed the savings and benefits of Cycle to Work, offered via 32,000 employers.

The process for offering a scheme is quite simple. The employer sets up a scheme and buys bicycles and cycling equipment from the provider. They hire it to their employees who then have the option to buy the bike and equipment at the end of the loan period.

Offering the Busy BeesBenefits Cycle to Work scheme to employees can save an organisation up to £138 per year, per employee on the scheme. Employees can save up to 50% on the cost of a new bicycle, equipment and accessories and also make savings on tax and National Insurance of up to £410, depending on individual circumstances.

The savings which employees can make are the main reason they sign up to the scheme, but the creation of a healthier workforce, less need for parking and the contribution it can make to the organisation’s corporate social responsibility profile are also important benefits.

Any company can offer a scheme, whether big or small. 57% of the employers surveyed in the research were SMEs, with less than 200 employees.

For more information about cycle to work, click here.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Save money on your childcare costs


Now is a time when families are finding managing their household budget a challenge as extra strains are being placed on funds due to the increasing cost of utility bills, food, fuel and childcare.

For many working parents, the heaviest burden on their finances is childcare.  Childcare can be one of the largest monthly bills and as such some parents have even considered giving up work as a large proportion of their wages is spent on childcare.

When parents look at their childcare options they are often uninformed about the financial support they can get to help with childcare costs.  Parents want affordable childcare without having to compromise on quality – Childcare Vouchers are the answer. 

Childcare Vouchers can appear to be complicated; Busy Bees Benefits, a renowned Childcare Voucher provider is on hand to make them as simple as possible:

What are Childcare Vouchers?
Childcare Vouchers are available from your employer to help you save money on your childcare costs.  They are then used by parents to pay their childcare provider.

How do they work?
Vouchers are deducted from your salary before you pay tax and National Insurance.  Tax and National Insurance is then taken from the remaining salary which means you pay less taxsaving up to £933* per year.

Basic rate tax payers are entitled to exchange up to £243* per month from their wages in return for the same amount of vouchers.  Higher rate tax payers can exchange up to £124* per month and additional rate tax payers can exchange up to £97* per month.

Childcare Vouchers are available per parent, which means that both parents can join their employers Childcare Voucher scheme, potentially doubling the savings.

Where can they be used?
Childcare Vouchers can be used to pay for any registered childcare for children up to the age of 16**.  Childcare providers must be registered with Ofsted or an equivalent governing body.  They can be used to pay for:
  • Nurseries
  • Child minders
  • Play schools and pre-schools
  • Nannies and au pairs
  • Créches and play schemes
  • Before and after school clubs
  • Holiday clubs and activity camps

How can you get Childcare Vouchers?
To start using Childcare Vouchers, you will need to join your employers Childcare Voucher scheme.  Check with your HR department to see if your employer runs a scheme, if not you can contact BusyBees Benefits with your employer’s details and they will get in touch to set up a scheme.

Once registered to your employer’s scheme, you can have a deduction from your wages the next time you get paid. 

How do you pay your childcare provider?
Busy Bees Benefits operates a simple system which allows you to log in to your account, select your childcare provider and make payments straight away*.  Busy Bees Benefits will automatically check that your childcare provider is registered with Ofsted or an equivalent governing body. 

Not all Childcare Voucher providers offer this service and registering a childcare provider can be more complex.

What happens if your childcare is more than £243 per month?
You can still use Childcare Vouchers.  Simply pay the outstanding amount using another payment method.

Childcare Vouchers vs Tax Credits
If you are a parent claiming the childcare element of Working Tax Credits (Universal Credit), you might be better off continuing to do so.  Before signing up to a Childcare Voucher scheme you can use this Government calculator to see which is best for you: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/calcs/ccin.htm

What will happen to Childcare Vouchers when the new Tax-free Childcare scheme is introduced?
The Government has proposed a new Tax-free Childcare scheme which will see 20% of a child’s childcare costs being subsidised by the Government.  The new scheme is due to be implemented in Autumn 2015.

Childcare Vouchers will remain in existence for a further five years after the Tax-free Childcare scheme is in place.  Those already using Childcare Vouchers can continue to do so; however the scheme will not be open to new entrants once the new scheme is launched.

There will be winners and losers with the new scheme as some parents will be able to save more using Childcare Vouchers.  Those who will be better off using Childcare Vouchers should join their employer’s scheme now to maximise the savings available.  For more information about the new scheme visit: www.taxfreechildcarescheme.com.

For more information about Childcare Vouchers please visit: www.busybeesbenefits.com

*Subject to individual circumstances.
**A child qualifies for Childcare Vouchers up to the first September after their 15th birthday (or the first September after their 16th birthday if they are disabled.)

Thursday, 9 May 2013

How to Save on Spring Holiday Fun



Half term is approaching - for most schools it falls in the last week of May. Are you a working parent who is saving your holiday entitlement for the longer summer holidays? Perhaps you are in a role which means you simply can’t take time off when the children are not at school. If you need additional childcare during half term week, but are concerned about the cost, there is a great way to save money, says Busy Bees Benefits.

Childcarevouchers are basically a tax break to help you pay for childcare.  You give up part of your salary each week or month and you do not have to pay tax or National Insurance on that portion of your wages, which are used to pay directly for a variety of forms of registered childcare. This can save you up to £933 a year if you are a basic rate taxpayer (subject to individual circumstances). If both parents join a scheme, these savings can be doubled.

Childcare vouchers could be used to pay for days at a local playscheme, holiday club or at one of the larger national companies which provide holiday activities, courses and day camps. Many of these companies provide early start and late pick up times so you can still meet the demands of your job and know the kids are not only cared for by a registered provider but will come home inspired by their experiences.

To access childcare vouchers, you will need to check if your employer offers a scheme. If they do not, ask them to do so now. By offering a scheme, both employees and the company will save money. It’s worth knowing too that the Childcare Voucher scheme may only be open until Autumn 2015, when the Government is expected to launch the Tax-free Childcare scheme. Savings for some families will be smaller under the new scheme. If you join a childcare voucher scheme now, not only will you be saving for the next two and a half years, you will be able to choose which scheme is best for you.

How can parents access childcare vouchers and how do they work?
  • Childcare vouchers are available to working parents via their employer. They are a benefit, so parents must ask their employer to provide them. The employer will save money too, so it’s worth them offering the scheme as part of their benefits package.
  •  Once the employer agrees to provide childcare vouchers, the parent simply registers on the scheme, stating how much they would like to deduct from their wages each pay day in return for the vouchers.
  • Parents can currently exchange up to £243* per month.
  • The amount exchanged for vouchers is deducted from the employee’s wages and no tax and National Insurance is taken. Parents then pay their childcare provider with the vouchers. Taking childcare vouchers, means that parents can save up to £933* per year in tax and National Insurance savings.
  • Childcare vouchers can be used to pay for any registered childcare up to 1st September after your child's 15th birthday (16th if they are disabled)

For more information about how you can start saving using Childcare Vouchers visit www.busybeesbenefits.com.