Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis tips childcare voucher schemes as one of the top ways to save money on childcare over the school holidays.
The summer holidays are finally here, but as parents gear themselves up for a well-deserved rest from making packed lunches, washing dirty PE kit and braving the school run, another more pressing problem emerges. As Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis, pointed out this on GMTV, working parents don't need to pay huge sums for childcare, or take time off to look after the kids but lose out on valuable income, or hope that there will always be a friend or family member around to take responsibility for the youngsters. There is another option. They can make the most of employer's childcare voucher schemes, and here Amanda Ward, Director, Early Years Vouchers Ltd, shows how.
"Many parents are missing out on huge savings, simply because many of them aren't aware that the vouchers exist. The vouchers cover childcare up to the age of 15, and can be used to pay for any childcare that is registered and/or approved. Many parents don't realise that this covers not just nursery schools, playgroups, nannies and childminders, but also a wide range of summer classes, clubs and workshops for older children. Other flexible aspects of the scheme are that vouchers have a long expiry date, so can be saved up for times when parents know childcare costs will be higher, such as the summer holidays.
"All working Mums and Dads are in fact eligible for tax- and NI- free childcare vouchers, but the lack of knowledge and promotion by the government surrounding voucher schemes simply fuels the misconception that in order to qualify for childcare savings they have to be low earners. In reality, every single working parent is entitled to childcare savings, regardless of how much they earn, either through working tax credits or childcare vouchers. Working Mums and Dads who are 20 per cent tax payers can save £903.96 per annum on childcare costs, while 40 per cent taxpayers are entitled to savings of almost £1,200.
"It's not just parents that need to be told about the benefits they can gain from childcare vouchers, but employers too. In many cases, the employer doesn't flag up the availability of the vouchers to their employees. However, as Martin Lewis was keen to stress, it costs nothing for a company to sign up to Childcare Voucher Scheme; in fact, because employers don't pay National Insurance on the vouchers, being part of such a scheme can actually make them money, so everyone benefits. Companies can be reluctant to sign up to the scheme because the misconception still exists that implementing a voucher scheme will add to a busy HR workload. But here at Early Years we offer fully automated services and personal customer support, so there is no excuse for parents to be missing out on such substantial savings."
Employers, including Kellogg and Endemol, have taken on childcare voucher schemes from Early Years Vouchers Ltd to provide their working Mums and Dads with savings that make a big difference to family life. "EYVL's scheme is a 'no-brainer' for us," comments Tom Stevenson, HR Manager, Total Compensation UK & ROI, Kellogg. "The fact that both parents can benefit from EYVL's childcare voucher scheme has definitely been a big positive for our employees and the feedback we've received has been tremendous and has exceeded all our expectations."
"Claire Harrison, Payroll Manager at Endemol, said: "Taking up a childcare scheme like the one EYVL offers helps improve staff recruitment and retention levels, but more importantly it has helped us enhance Endemol's social responsibility. Such a scheme is really encouraging for working Mums – and increasingly Dads – to come back to work, especially as it also provides parents with help for childcare costs until the children are 15 years old."
About Early Years Vouchers Ltd: – Early Years Vouchers Ltd is one of the UK's leading childcare voucher companies. Founded in 2004, the company operates one of the UK's most advanced fully functional online childcare voucher systems for parents, carers and employers of any size – from large nationwide organisations with many thousands of employees to small companies with just two or three. The scheme enables each parent to achieve significant cost savings for the 2008/9 tax year of up to £1195.56 per year per parent. Additional information is available at www.childcare-vouchers.net