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