Thursday, 18 February 2016

Childcare Voucher provider failings revealed

In the final year of the Childcare Voucher scheme, the ability to maximise on National Insurance (NI) savings is extremely important for employers. However, despite the limited time left to offer Childcare Vouchers, some scheme providers are still failing to meet the basic service expectations of their clients. A number of large and public sector businesses who had hoped to capitalize on business savings before the launch of Tax-free Childcare are being let down by their provider and having to switch to alternative employee benefit companies.

Busy Bees Benefits reveals the most common issues reported to them when contacted by clients looking for a new provider and provides advice to employers suffering from the same difficulties:

1. Emails going unanswered
It is not uncommon to receive an automatic reply from your provider when you send an email enquiry, but if your email isn’t answered within the time frame they provide, there is something going wrong. It is a very basic requirement that your enquiry is treated with the level of urgency it needs. If your emails aren’t being answered or if your provider takes longer than they promise to get back to you, it might be the right time to consider your options.

2. Taking over two weeks to set up a new account
As an experienced provider of Childcare Vouchers, we can tell you that setting up a new account does not take two weeks. If you’ve requested a new account to be set up, make sure that it is done as soon as possible to ensure your employees have enough time to set up their voucher order.

3. Preventing NI savings by charging a flat fee
The Childcare Voucher scheme should benefit both employer and employee. If your voucher provider is charging a flat fee rather than taking a small cut of your NI savings, the benefit to your business could end up substantially lower. A provider should only make money when your business does, so if you find that you’re being charged a fee when no one in the business has used the scheme, your provider probably doesn’t have the interests of your business at heart.

4. Holding onto voucher monies for up to a week before releasing vouchers
If an employee can’t use their voucher as soon as the money has been sacrificed there is a problem. Whether the waiting period is three days or five days, an employee that has to wait to pay a childcare provider is inconvenienced. Be sure that the scheme you’re providing isn’t doing more harm than good.

5. Not providing a Basic Earnings Assessment 
The provision of the Basic Earnings Assessment greatly reduces the administrative burden on employers. From the information given, the Busy Bees Benefits system calculates employees’ childcare voucher entitlement, minimum wage checks and stores the information in readiness for annual audits. If your provider asks your employee to fill out an excel spreadsheet and send it back, there may be reason for concern.

Other issues confessed by companies operating schemes through poor providers include changing charging structures, high levels of administration and hidden cancellation fees when an employee terminates their order.

If you’re experiencing any of the common issues reported by Busy Bees Benefits, or if your provider has measures in place that are stopping you from receiving you final year’s full savings, it might be time to consider switching providers.

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