Could you lose money? Why the closure of the Childcare Voucher scheme to new entrants will affect you
Will you be affected by the change to the Childcare Voucher scheme? Find out why it’s so important, who it affects and what you can do to help try and keep it open.
We’ve sat in on many meetings in the House of Commons discussing the barriers to mothers returning to work. And one word comes up every single time: childcare.
Specifically, the high cost of childcare in the UK is cited as a common reason why women struggle to resume their careers after having children.
Indeed, research carried out by Mums Enterprise this year discovered that, while 81% of the 1,000 women surveyed wanted to make a change to their career while on maternity leave (the changes cited were predominantly related to working flexibly), only 42% of these women actually did.
And the reason why? It will come as no surprise to learn that lack of money and childcare costs came top of the list.
So it makes no sense to us to learn that the the Childcare Voucher scheme will close to new entrants on 4 October 2018.
Why is the Childcare Voucher scheme so important?
The Childcare Voucher scheme is a government-approved, tax-efficient way of paying for childcare. Once you join the scheme you can swap up to £243 a month (£55 a week) of your gross salary for childcare vouchers.
All registered childcare providers (including childminders, nurseries, nannies and holiday and out of school clubs) can accept the vouchers as a method of payment.
It’s free to sign up to the scheme, and it applies whatever rate of tax you pay. Both parents can sign up for it, doubling the amount you can swap (and save).
For employed parents who have children in childcare, this scheme makes financial sense, and helps allay some of the crippling costs. It’s something we ourselves gratefully used when we were employed.
But for future parents, this financial relief (worth up to £1,866 a year if two parents on a basic tax rate use the maximum allowance) will no longer be available.
Are you affected by the closure of this scheme?
So how do you know if this change will apply to you? You will be impacted by the closure of the scheme if any of the following statements apply to you:
- You currently access Childcare Vouchers but change job after 4 October.
- You are a parent-to-be who will need to use childcare and whose baby will be born after 4 October.
- You’re an employer who wants to offer Childcare Vouchers to new staff.
As you can read, even if you are currently using the scheme you are not ‘safe’. As soon as you change job, your right to access the vouchers will end after 4 October if this change goes ahead.
According to The Mirror, 780,000 parents currently claim Childcare Vouchers. And there are 280,000 first born babies born every year – the parents of whom will not be able to access the scheme.
Can you campaign to keep the Childcare Voucher scheme open?
This is such an important change for families across the UK that there’s a campaign underway to save it. Already the scheme has been extended for six months (it was due to close earlier in the year) following a campaign by parents. So we know that our voices can have an impact.
If you’d like to join the current campaign to save the Childcare Voucher scheme, contact your local MP and ask them to put pressure on the government to keep Childcare Vouchers open to new users after October. Here’s an easy way to do this:
- To find your local MP just click here and enter your postcode.
- Click on your MP’s name.
- On their page click on the ‘Send a message’ button.
- Enter the subject line ‘Keep Childcare Vouchers open for parents’.
- Then write a personal message about why you believe the scheme should be kept open. You might want to explain how the scheme has benefited your family personally, or how you’ll be impacted by the change.
Share the campaign on social media
If you know anyone else who will be affected by the change or feel passionately about the closure, please forward this article to them and encourage them to get involved too. The more people who speak up about this, the more chance we have of being listened to.
You can also use social media to ask your MP to keep Childcare Vouchers open to new entrants.
Here is a sample tweet you can use and personalise:
Please [insert MP’s twitter handle] stand with working parents and urge @hmtreasuryto halt the closure of Childcare Vouchers to new entrants and keep this vital support open alongside Tax-Free Childcare #SaveChildcareVouchers
Here is a sample Facebook post:
I value flexibility and choice when it comes to paying for childcare. If you do too, stand alongside working parents like me and join the #SaveChildcareVouchers Lobby your MP to keep Childcare Vouchers open beyond October 2018! Find out more here
And here is a sample LinkedIn post:
The government plans to close Childcare Vouchers in October 2018. Join the #SaveChildcareVouchers campaign now and stand with working parents to ensure we all have access to the same financial support towards the cost of childcare. Find out more here
The link to add to each is https://futureofchildcaresupport.com.
You can learn more about the campaign to save the Childcare Voucher scheme here.
Photo by Markus Spiske