Getting into the Christmas spirit… And our ‘Top Ten Childcare Voucher Tips’ for the new year

It’s official - the countdown is on to Christmas and we’re getting very, VERY excited in the office.

We’ve all been reminiscing about the Christmases we had when we were young. I think my favourite memory is waiting for Santa and peeping out of the window hoping that I’d see him on his sleigh.

A lot of the team vividly remember running downstairs early on Christmas morning in their pyjamas, and impatiently waiting for Mum and Dad to follow, so they could start opening their presents. (A few of them even confessed to ripping the sides of the wrapping paper and trying to take a sneak peak at what Santa had brought them!)

It hasn’t changed a lot now we’re all grown up… This year I can’t wait to…

  • Spend time with my family
  • Tuck into a roast dinner on Christmas day
  • Indulge in lots of mince pies
  • Laze around in my Christmas jumper 
  • Wrap presents (and of course open them on Christmas morning)

We’ve also been talking about our New Year’s resolutions and what we’re going to try and do next year – have you thought about what your New Year’s resolutions will be?

The parents on our team have come up with some resolutions for their children already, such as getting them to:

  • Keep their room tidy
  • Do their homework on time
  • Eat all their greens
  • Take up a sport
  • Put their hand up more in class

Our ‘Top Ten Childcare Voucher Tips’ for the new year...

If you have a child at school, juggling your childcare needs whilst you’re at work can often be a challenge – you need to cover the gap between you starting/finishing work and core school hours during term-time, and then you have to sort out cover during the 14 weeks of school holidays!

As the autumn term comes to a close, with the winter holidays almost upon us, here are our ‘Top Ten Childcare Voucher Tips’ to help you make the most of your childcare vouchers in the New Year:

1) Childcare vouchers can be used for school-age children, up to 15 years old (16 if registered disabled).

2) There are many types of ‘wrap-around care’ for school-age children during term-time, including breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and childminders. You can use your childcare vouchers to pay for all of these!

3) You don’t have to use your childcare vouchers immediately. You can save them up for when you need them most.

4) If you don’t currently order the maximum amount of childcare vouchers allowed for your tax band, you can increase your order to the maximum, and save the vouchers you don’t use each month, for a time when your childcare costs are likely to be higher.

5) You can use childcare vouchers during the 14 weeks of school holidays to pay for day camps, residential activity holidays, holiday clubs and playschemes.

6) Residential activity holidays and day camp providers include Barracudas, Camp Beaumont Day Camps, Camp Beaumont Residential, Supercamps and Kings Camps, and many more! For details of their offers and discounts visit our website.

7) You can easily catch up on any childcare vouchers you've missed within each tax year, if your employer allows you to. Simply log on to the ‘My vouchers’ tab on your Computershare online account and see what outstanding balance you have available.

8) You can find childcare for older children by:

a. Asking at your child’s school about extended services available during the holidays

b. Visiting your local authority website and searching on “Family Information Service”

c. Visiting websites such as www.netmums.com or www.mumsnet.com and forsaking about childcare in your area

d. Logging in to your Computershare account and searching by postcode to see which carers are nearest to you and registered with us. If they don’t appear, they can be added for free – just give us a call!

e. Searching online for residential activity holiday and day camp providers, and holiday clubs and playschemes

9) Don’t forget you can use your childcare vouchers for more than one child, and to pay more than one carer. And you should always ask your school/carer if they accept childcare vouchers.

10) Because the value of your childcare voucher is taken from your gross pay, you don’t pay any tax and National Insurance on it – this is how you save money. If both you and your partner are Basic rate taxpayers, and you’re both taking the maximum £243 in vouchers each month, you can save up to £1,866 in tax and NI exemptions as a family each year!

Christmas-baby

We hope that you find these tips useful?

Have a great festive season and we’ll catch you back here in 2015!

Radhika from the CVS team

Christmas competition time!

This year we’re doing things a little differently for our Christmas competition – we’ve kept an eye on any early letters to Santa and we’ve got our hands on some of ‘Hamleys’ top ten most wanted Christmas toys for 2014’.

The team are finding it hard to keep away from the toys – so with no further ado our Facebook ‘Christmas Quiz’ competition has officially launched!

In total we’ve got NINE prizes - yes, NINE prizes to give away – the goodies up for grabs are a Xeno toy, Ice Skating Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, a My Friend Cayla doll, a Kidizoom Smart Watch in pink or blue, a DohVinci Style and Store Vanity design kit, a Transformers Chomp & Stomp robot, and a BoomCo Rapid Madness blaster!

cvs-competition-prizes

There are 3 simple steps you need to follow to get involved:

1) Head over to our Facebook page 

2) For each of the nine ‘Christmas Quiz’ prize draw posts we put on Facebook during the competition period, you have to answer the question correctly for the chance to win the prize that’s up for grabs that day.

3) You’ll have to be quick though – you have to give your answer before midnight the same day, to be in with a chance of winning that day’s prize.

The nuts and bolts of how it works after you’ve entered…

We thought we’d take a little time out to explain how the bits on our side work, as we understand you’ll want to know if you’re a winner as soon as possible!

We’ll be running nine different prize draws during the competition period (Monday 10th November to Monday 1st December 2014 inclusive). Each of the nine prizes is available for one day only.

You can enter all nine ‘Christmas Quiz’ prize draws if you wish, but you can only answer each of the nine questions once. If you submit multiple answers to the same ‘Christmas Quiz’ question we will only accept your first answer.

You have to give a correct answer on the same day that the ‘Christmas Quiz’ question is posted, in order to be entered in that particular prize draw.

We’ll put all the people who submitted correct answers into our special random selector tool to pick a winner from all the eligible entries.

After we’ve picked a lucky winner, we’ll contact them by direct message via Facebook within three working days of that specific competition post.

If you don’t manage to get back to us within five days or you reject the prize, we’ll pick another winner.

Once everything has been confirmed and the prize has been accepted by you – we can make it official by posting details of all nine winners on our online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Good luck!

The CVS team

Competition time!

As the summer holidays are officially here, we launched our brand new competition on Tuesday

One lucky person will win £100 WH Smith vouchers! You’ll be able to stock up on Hello Kitty, Angry Birds or Spiderman notebooks, pens, pencil cases and other stationery whether your child is starting reception year at school, or is already at school. 

To enter, all you need to do is ‘Like’ our Facebook page and comment on at least one of our posts – it’s that simple!

This competition is open until Wednesday 6th August so, head over to our Facebook page to comment on today’s post, or any other post we make over the next couple of weeks.

Good luck!

The Computershare Voucher Services team 

Are our childhood summers seen through rose-tinted glasses?

We’ve been reminiscing in the office, about what we used to do when we were younger, in our school summer holidays, and how times have changed. 

Many of our parents worked, so a lot of us used to go out with our friends or cousins on our bikes for the day. Some of us in the office used to go sightseeing, to the zoo or beach with our friends parents'. Some of the lucky ones would go and stay over with their Grandparents for a few days, where they would be spoilt rotten – those were the days.

As an adult, things appear to be very different and less fluffy. The pressures of work and the lifestyles we lead are a lot busier. Immediate family is often more spread out and not practical for informal childcare arrangements. Often parents stagger their annual leave and take it in turns to take time off to cover their childcare needs. However, there is now a network of holiday clubs and playscheme providers, as well as activity holiday companies, who can all help fill any childcare gaps over the 14 weeks of school holidays. But it doesn't necessarily come cheap.

How to find childcare over the school holidays…

  › Childcare is provided by private organisations, schools or local authorities. It’s worth asking at your child’s school about extended services available during the holidays, or visit your local authority’s website.  

  › Take a look at www.childcare.co.uk, www.netmums.com or www.mumsnet.com and search for childcare in your area.

  › Computershare works with a selection of activity holiday providers to offer a range of discounts – take a look at our website for further information. 

  › Log in to your Computershare account and search by carer name, carer ID or postcode to see which carers are nearest to you and registered with CVS. If you already have a carer in mind, but they’re not registered with Computershare, they can be added for free.

  › Did you know you can use your childcare vouchers to pay for holiday childcare? The most common providers include: 
    o Holiday clubs and playschemes (often part of the governments’ extended schools agenda)
    o Residential activity holiday and day camp providers
    o Childminders

Here are some tips on using your childcare vouchers for holiday cover…

We hope you have a great summer with your children, whatever you get up to!

Did you get the school places you wanted?

For many parents in the UK, this Easter weekend brought the news of their child’s primary school place*.

Now the news has sunk in, the countdown’s on to your child’s first day at school!

Don’t forget our top tips for preparing for school: 

Establish a routine – the more you practice, the more you’ll get used to the school run! 

Keep your paperwork – so you can keep track of school holidays and procedures 

Organise childcare – to cover the beginning and end of the school day!

Don’t forget, you can continue to order the same amount of childcare vouchers when your child starts school, and even save up leftover vouchers for care during the holidays!

A parent’s experience 

Our latest video features one parent’s experience of preparing her daughter for school with us. You can watch the video on our YouTube channel.

We hope you got the school you wanted – and good luck with getting started!

*Find out more about admissions in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland

 

Taking the hassle out of managing your childcare voucher account

How many accounts do you manage online? Nowadays we all have so many passwords to remember and online accounts to keep on top of, and, as a busy parent, managing a family’s finances and lifestyle is an ongoing challenge.

This is why we are committed to helping the parents that use our scheme to manage their childcare vouchers more efficiently. We’ve recently made some improvements to our online accounts, based on feedback from our customers.

The top three new features for parents:

1. Dashboard - we’ve created a new Dashboard to allow parents to see their balance, upcoming orders, account details and other options – all in one place. They’ll also find quick links to make transactions and update your settings – saving valuable time!

2. Refreshed interface and improved navigation – if you’re new to our scheme, you may notice that we’ve updated the look and feel of our Registration page to match the style of our main website, offering a more intuitive experience for you. Our new menu offers quick links around the site when you’re not logged in to your account, helping you find the information you need, faster!

Feedback from parents has helped us to make paying a carer a quicker process. We’ve restructured our drop-down menus so that carer transactions are all in one place and placed a quick ‘make a payment’ link on the carer menu to reduce the time parents spend managing their account.

3. e-Voucher Balance Display - as well as displaying on the Dashboard, parents’ available account balance is now displayed throughout the online payment process, without having to go back and double-check.

We provide a free online account where parents can edit their voucher order, pay carers, and keep personal details up to date. If you are a parent who currently receives paper vouchers, it’s easy to start managing your order online!

We hope these new features will help parents manage their vouchers quickly and easily. We’re keen to hear what you think so please send your feedback to customerfeedback@computershare.co.uk