The headlines are full of articles and news reports about proposals by political parties on changes to childcare if they are selected at the General Election. Proposals include, increasing the current 15 hours of free childcare, enabling those using Universal Credit to get an 85% subsidy on childcare spending and the launch of Tax-free Childcare to replace Childcare Vouchers to help working parents to save on their childcare costs.
It is assumed that at least Tax-free Childcare will be introduced in the autumn as planned, regardless of which party is appointed. However, there is a lot of confusion around how much parents can save on their childcare costs using Tax-free Childcare or Childcare Vouchers. To help, Childcare Voucher provider, Busy Bees Benefits, have been offering parents individual assessments of their circumstances to help them decide which scheme will be financially better for their families. From these, Busy Bees Benefits have found that at least 80% of parents will be better off continuing to use Childcare Vouchers after Tax-free Childcare is launched in the autumn.
Parents were asked to supply their child’s details including their age and childcare costs, as well as parents’ earnings. From the information provided, Busy Bees Benefits were able to calculate whether they would be financially better off using Childcare Vouchers or Tax-free Childcare. John Woodward, Busy Bees Benefits CEO said “we knew a lot of parents would be better off using Childcare Vouchers, however we were surprised at the figures we calculated. Childcare Vouchers already help over 500,000 working parents, it is now time for employers to increase their responsibility to employees by promoting their Childcare Voucher schemes to ensure all eligible parents can join the scheme and benefit from the savings before it’s too late.”
“Childcare Vouchers require less spend to get maximum savings as each parent needs to only pay out £2,916 per year to get the maximum saving of £933* per parent, whereas parents would need to spend £8,000 to get the maximum spend of £2,000 per child with Tax-free Childcare.”
After Tax-free Childcare is introduced, the Childcare Voucher scheme will be closed to new entrants, which means that parents wanting more affordable childcare will only be able to use Tax-free Childcare to make savings.
To access Childcare Vouchers, employers need to be offering a scheme and employees need to register before the autumn. Busy Bees Benefits is recommending that all employees have one deduction of at least £10 before the end of August to guarantee access to Childcare Vouchers. Providing employees have one deduction each tax year, they will be able to remain on the Childcare Voucher scheme until they no longer require it.
Busy Bees Benefits is advising all employers to continue offering Childcare Vouchers to their employees to ensure they can still maximise savings for the organisation as they will continue to save up to £402 per employee on the scheme.
Parents who will be better off using Childcare Vouchers include those falling into the following categories:
a. Middle-low earning parents if not eligible for Working Families Tax Credit
b. Basic Rate tax payers spending less than £9,336 on childcare each year
c. Families with only one working parent
d. Families with low childcare costs e.g. only using a few hours per week and before and after school clubs
e. Families using Childcare Vouchers for extra curriculum activities through an Ofsted or Independent School provider
f. Families using childcare for children over the age of 12
g. Families who want to start saving towards childcare costs as soon as their baby is born
h. Family run businesses where savings can be made on PAYE, Employers and Employee National Insurance and Corporation Tax
i. Families where one parent earns above £50,000, can use salary sacrifice to reduce their salary, which could enable them to receive more child benefit
To ensure your employees can access maximum savings through Childcare Vouchers and retain the right to choose which scheme is best for their family, set up a Childcare Voucher scheme now.
For more information and advice, please visit www.busybeesbenefits.com.