3 childcare myths – dispelled!

There are a lot of preconceptions about childcare and childcare vouchers. Let us bust 3 common myths for you today!

Myth 1: You can only use childcare vouchers for pre-schoolers

Fact: Vouchers definitely aren’t just for pre-schoolers. Registered childcare providers who look after school-age children can also accept them as payment. In fact, they can be used for any children up to 15 years old (or 16 if registered disabled) in a variety of settings such as childminders, breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and holiday clubs. These types of childcare settings help bridge the gap between a school’s core hours and a parent’s working day.

Myth 2: Childminders aren't regulated

Fact: All childminders are registered with Ofsted in England or an equivalent governing body in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and will have to go through regular inspections. If they’re caring for children under 5 they will be on the Early Years Register and also need to make sure they deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. Those who are registered on the Childcare Register can also care for 5-7 year olds. As well as the above, they have to hold:

·         Public liability insurance

·         An up-to-date paediatric first aid certificate

·         A valid Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and sign up to the update service

·         A doctor’s certificate showing they are mentally and physically fit for childcare

·         Permission from their landlord to use their premises as a childcare facility if they rent

Myth 3: My children are too old and no longer need childcare

Fact: Don’t write off the chance to save just because you think your children are too old - childcare vouchers are for children of up to 15 (16 if registered disabled).

You can also save up your vouchers throughout the year and use them when you need them most - this can be especially handy for childcare during the long summer holidays. The vouchers can be used for holiday clubs, residential summer camps, activity holidays and much more.

Always remember to ask your carer if they accept childcare vouchers – you could be pleasantly surprised!

 

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.

Time is running out – register for childcare vouchers today!

In March, we got the fantastic news that childcare vouchers will still be available to new entrants up until 4 October 2018.

New to childcare vouchers? You need to apply by 4 October

But don’t let that date fool you, you need to have a childcare voucher taken from your pay by that date, and it takes time to sign up with your employer - and their payroll deadlines will have an impact. Most employers need a month's notice to make changes to payroll, so you’ll need to contact your payroll or HR department by the end of August to ensure you get a voucher in your September pay, ahead of the October deadline.

5 reasons you should be applying now

  • With childcare vouchers it’s possible to save up to £933 a year through tax and NI exemptions.
  • If both parents join their employer’s childcare voucher scheme, the potential savings could be doubled!
  • Childcare vouchers aren’t just for nursery aged children; they can be used for any child up to 15 years old, or 16 if registered disabled.
  • Many parents in Britain are now spending more on childcare than their mortgage, research suggests – so getting registered for childcare vouchers is now more important than ever.[1]
  • By providing childcare vouchers, your employer makes significant National Insurance savings too!

Things to note

If you’re a new parent joining the childcare voucher scheme, or a parent whose eligibility has lapsed because your last childcare voucher order was more than a year ago, you must have a voucher deducted from your pay by 4 October 2018.

If you miss the deadline, Tax-Free Childcare will be your only option in future, and this could be a problem as you may not be eligible for it (you can check if you are here).

Ask your employer when their last payroll cut-off date is for you to have a voucher taken from your pay by 4 October.

We believe the majority of families will be better off with tax credits, childcare vouchers, or a combination of both. But don’t just take our word for it, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has spoken out about how much you can save. If you want to find out more, read his childcare vouchers guide here.

If you need help deciding what would work better for you, childcare vouchers or the government’s new alternative Tax Free Childcare scheme, you can use our handy decision tree here.

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-26433991

Win £1000 for your favourite childcare setting in our ‘Name That Teacher’ competition!

The school summer holidays are upon us, and with it, the extra childcare responsibilities for school-age children. Did you know that childcare vouchers aren’t just for pre-school? You can also use them to ease the cost of childcare whilst your kids are at school too. Whether they’re headed to a holiday camp, breakfast club or an after-school music lesson, be sure to always ask your carer if they accept childcare vouchers.

We’re also giving you the chance to win £1000 for your favourite over 5’s childcare setting to spend on vital equipment with our ‘Name That Teacher’ Facebook competition. They just need to be registered with Ofsted (or an equivalent governing body) and cater for school-age children*.

Sounds great! How do I enter?

Entering the competition is simple. Starting at 1 pm, Monday 23 July and ending on Friday 17 August, we’ll be making a series of #teacher competition posts on Facebook. These posts will be easy to spot, as each will contain a brightly coloured picture with a quote from a famous fictional teacher from TV or film. When you spot a #teacher post, just follow these steps:

1. Find out which famous fictional teacher the quote we post belongs to

2. Comment with your answer, which childcare setting you'd like to win and use the hashtag #teacher

3. We'll pick a winner at random and tag them!

4. If you want to, please like and share our competition posts to encourage other parents to enter!

Keep an eye out for our competition posts on Facebook throughout the coming weeks and remember – we can tell if you’ve googled it… (we can’t).

To go to our Facebook page and get guessing, click here.

To read the terms and conditions of the competition, click here.

Good luck!

 

15/30 hours and childcare vouchers – getting around the glitch

We’re aware from the number of parents getting in touch with us, and from comments on one of our recent Facebook posts, that the process for applying - and reconfirming your eligibility – for the government’s 30 hours free childcare scheme is not clear.

The root of the problem seems to be that 30 hours free childcare shares the same application process as the government’s Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) initiative. One of the rules for using TFC is that you can’t use childcare vouchers at the same time. Whilst that rule doesn’t apply for 15/30 hours, the application process doesn’t appear to take that fact into account.

Thankfully, parents have been sharing the advice they’ve been given by the HMRC helpline to work around this system glitch.

15%2F30 hours.png

And to confirm:

You CAN apply for the 15/30 hours of free childcare and continue to receive your childcare vouchers.

You DO NOT have to apply for Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) to get the 15/30 hours of free childcare.

We’ve reported these issues to HMRC via the Childcare Voucher Providers Association (CVPA). They’ve said they will issue a fix to the system shortly.

 

More useful reading

We’ve also written a couple of other blogs on 15/30 hours free childcare:

›      How to apply for 15/30 hours free childcare

›      30 hours free childcare – reconfirming your eligibility every 3 months 

Top Tip 1

Don’t forget – you can use your childcare vouchers to pay for any childminder/nursery costs over-and-above your 15/30 hours of free childcare.

Top Tip 2

If you don’t need childcare vouchers whilst in receipt of 15/30 hours free childcare, don’t forget, you may want to use them again when your child starts school (for before and after school clubs in term time, and holiday clubs and activity camps in the school holidays). So you need to make sure you receive at least one childcare voucher in every rolling 12-month period to remain on your employer’s scheme.

'Win Your Child's Height in Books' is back!

It's the moment you've all been waiting for…yes! In celebration of #WorldBookDay we're offering you the chance to WIN your child's height in books!

Now in its seventh year, the competition gives you the chance to win a big stack of books for your child, from the tip of their toes to the top of their head – up to a massive 5”9!

Here’s how to enter!

To be in with a chance of winning, you'll have to...

1. Guess the missing word from the title of the book we post

2. Comment with your answer and use the hashtag #missingword

3. We'll pick a winner at random and tag them!

Keep an eye out for our competition posts throughout this month! The competition closes on 31 March and we’ll be drawing a winner 3 April.

To go to our Facebook page and get guessing, click here.

To read the terms and conditions of the competition, click here.

Good luck!