Update on #SaveChildcareVouchers campaign – your voice is being heard!

At the end of last year, you amazing people successfully managed to smash the petition target of 100,000 signatures needed to for a Parliamentary debate to keep the childcare vouchers scheme open. In March of 2018, the Government debated and announced they would keep childcare vouchers open for new entrants* alongside Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) for another 6 months, taking the deadline from April to October 2018.

Fight to keep childcare vouchers scheme open beyond October

With just a few weeks before the childcare voucher scheme is set to close to new entrants, opposition MPs in Parliament have signed up to support keeping it open – your voice is being heard!

An Early-Day Motion, stating the government should not close the scheme without a proper analysis of the winners and losers, calls for MPs to have the opportunity to debate and vote on the proposed changes in Parliament before they are fully implemented.

Many ordinary working families stand to lose out if childcare vouchers close to new entrants on 4 October 2018 - and time is running out.

We believe the childcare voucher scheme being open alongside Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) gives parents like you a genuine choice for the support that best suits your family. We want this scheme to continue beyond October and with your help, we know we can do it!

Whether you’re a parent, an employer, or a childcare provider – please see below for ways you can help.

3 easy ways you can help to keep childcare vouchers open:

1. Contact your local MP.

Ask them to sign the Early-Day Motion and put pressure on the government to keep childcare vouchers open – it’s free, easy to do, and takes less than five minutes. Just visit www.theyworkforyou.com, enter your postcode to find out who represents you, and click on the green “Send a message” button to contact them.

2. Share the #SaveChildcareVouchers campaign with your friends and colleagues, including new or expectant parents

Encourage your networks to write to their MP so that all parents can have access to childcare vouchers beyond October. As the deadline to join the scheme approaches, they may lose out unless the government keeps it open.

3. Share this campaign on social media

Use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to demonstrate your support for the #SaveChildcareVouchers campaign and follow @Save_CCV for important news and updates on the campaign.

Visit this page to see some simple social media posts you can just copy, paste and post!

Click here to find out more about our campaign to #SaveChildcareVouchers and find out how you can help spread the word to keep the scheme open to new entrants* beyond October.

Please note, parents who are already on the childcare voucher scheme, and have had at least one childcare voucher taken from their pay in the last rolling 12-month period, can stay on their employer’s scheme for as long as they remain eligible, even if the scheme closes.

Update on recent changes on the .GOV.UK website around the closing date of the childcare voucher scheme

Over the past few days, we’ve been receiving questions regarding this information that has appeared on the government website

Changes to childcare vouchers.png

What does this information mean?

> Your childcare voucher scheme will close to new entrants on 6 April

> The need for working parents to receive a childcare voucher by 5 April is a very different approach to that adopted by HMRC in 2011, where setting up a first order (up to 12 months in advance) by the deadline was all that was required.

What is our view on this information?

As a childcare voucher provider we are concerned that:

> The information on HMRC’s website has changed a number of times and we are still waiting for formal clarification on the above

> There are still no formal guidelines available - ad hoc and often conflicting advice is being given by HMRC, and is changing on a regular basis

> The timing of the announcement leaves a very narrow window for parents to register on the scheme AND receive a voucher by 5 April

> The legislation required to close childcare vouchers is still to be tabled, so the 5 April  2018 deadline may yet change

> In addition to the recent two-hour government debate on the petition to keep childcare vouchers open, the Tax-Free Childcare scheme is currently under a lot of scrutiny - by Parliament, the Treasury Select Committee and the media - as a result of the issues parents are experiencing.

We have contacted HMRC for clarification of this new rule via the Childcare Voucher Providers Association (CVPA), but are still awaiting a response from them.

What next?

It’s important to remember that, as a childcare voucher provider we are here to offer guidance based upon the available facts, but do not have any further information beyond what is stated on the HMRC website.

Based on the information currently available, here is our advice to parents:

> It’s important to get all working parents signed up to childcare vouchers today, so they receive a childcare voucher by 5 April. Once on the scheme they can take their time deciding which scheme is best for them (they can always switch to TFC at a later date).

> All parents who have previously registered for childcare vouchers must receive at least one voucher in every rolling 12-month period. If their eligibility has lapsed i.e. it’s more than 12 months since their last order, they need to receive a voucher before the April deadline.

> Many parents won’t be eligible for TFC and will be better off with childcare vouchers, tax credits or a combination of both. Getting them registered for childcare vouchers is the best way to ensure they can take the time to choose the best solution for them.

We will update you as soon as we know more.

For more information about Tax-Free Childcare, visit www.giveyourselfachoice.com

Clarity on the Government’s response to the childcare voucher petition

A big thank you to everyone who signed the petition – we’ve smashed the 100,000 signatures needed and a date (15 January 2018) has now been set for the petition to be debated in parliament.

If you signed the petition, or visited the petition page, you will have seen the government’s response. It pitched TFC against childcare vouchers rather than both schemes running alongside each other, as the petition called for.

The Childcare Voucher Providers Association (CVPA) believes there are some important facts to understand about the benefits of childcare vouchers that parents are set to lose. 

It has been said that TFC is fairer and better targeted than vouchers, but this doesn’t take into account that families would lose all support under TFC if one parent was not in work for any reason this could be an unexpected job loss or having to stop working to look after an elderly relative. With Childcare Vouchers, the family would still receive support where they wouldn’t with TFC via the other working parent.

The average family will be able to claim more support with Childcare Vouchers. Tax-Free Childcare is often said to offer £2,000 of support, but this is based on a family spending a total of £10,000 a year on childcare, with £8,000 out of their own pocket. Most families cannot afford this. In fact, according to the Government’s figures, the average family spends £3,276 on childcare each year. This family would only receive up to £655 of support under TFC but could receive up to £1,866 with Childcare Vouchers.

It is also important to acknowledge that anyone who claimed TFC would lose access to any other working tax credits and universal credit, and these other benefits would still be available to a family using Childcare Vouchers.

It is also sometimes claimed that TFC is “fairer” to single parents, but single parent households could still be worse off with TFC. As a single parent paying standard rate tax would have to spend over £4665 on childcare to be better off with TFC than with Childcare Vouchers. It is precisely instances like this that shows us the importance of keeping both schemes open.

People sometimes think Childcare Vouchers has restricted access, but well over 20 million employees of the 31 million in this country can access vouchers. This includes everyone who works for any public sector body and any large employer. And this number is growing by the day. Even with the threat of closure over 1000 new small and medium sized businesses sign up to join the Childcare Voucher scheme every month.

Hopefully you’ll be able to see why we think it is so important that we keep Childcare Vouchers open.