Childcare vouchers schemes closed for new joiners from today with providers and experts warning there would be winners and losers.
Vouchers – which allow tax payers to pay for childcare from their pre-tax income, potentially saving families hundreds of pounds a year – are being replaced by the Government’s new tax-free childcare policy which it says means more parents will be eligible for support with childcare costs since not all employers offer childcare vouchers.
Vouchers have been a popular employee benefit and Workingmums.co.uk’s annual survey finds them listed in the top three benefits that make an employer more attractive to working families – just below private health care and on a par with enhanced pension provision.
Parents can register for Tax-Free Childcare through the Childcare Choices government website which gives information about the new schemes. The government says tax-free childcare can cut childcare costs for working families across the UK by up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for disabled children, but the amount parents save will depend on how much they spend on childcare. They will have to pay fees upfront and claim the tax back.
Workingmums.co.uk’s research shows many parents initially struggled with registering for tax-free childcare.
Meanwhile, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says it will consult on whether employers with more than 250 staff should be required to publish their parental leave and pay policies. This follows a campaign by Lib Dems MP Jo Swinson, which has so far resulted in 10 employers publishing their policies voluntarily.
The government is also said to be considering whether to create a duty for employers to consider whether a job can be done flexibly and to make that clear when advertising.