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.)

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