On 4 October 2018, childcare vouchers will close to new entrants forever. After that date, if you haven’t received a voucher within the last rolling 12-month period, you'll become ineligible for childcare vouchers and the government's Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) scheme will be your only option.
While TFC will make some families better off, analysis shows that most will be better off with childcare vouchers, tax credits, or a combination of the two. TFC also has a lot of eligibility criteria, meaning you may not qualify for it. For more information about TFC visit www.giveyourselfachoice.com.
To remain eligible for childcare vouchers you need to receive at least one voucher in every rolling 12 month period – with Computershare the minimum order is £20.
There are a number of reasons you might want to ‘pause’ your order, and in this blog post we take a look at ways you can remain eligible for childcare vouchers for each scenario.
You're using 15/30 hours free childcare
If you’re in England and currently making use of the 15/30 hours of free childcare, or about to apply, don’t forget you can use your childcare vouchers to pay for any additional childminder or nursery costs over-and-above your free entitlement
Check out our two blogs for more information on 15/30 hours free childcare:
You're on maternity/paternity leave
To remain eligible for childcare vouchers whilst on maternity/paternity leave, you need to receive a voucher in every rolling 12-month period:
› If you’re on an enhanced maternity/paternity leave package, there may be sufficient funds to continue paying for the childcare vouchers from your salary.
› If you’re on Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), many employers will continue to pay for your childcare vouchers - you’re not allowed to salary sacrifice your SMP for a childcare voucher. But some employers’ scheme rules may ask you to stop your order.
› If your employer requires you to stop your vouchers, and you’re planning on taking 12-months maternity/paternity leave, this may mean you become ineligible for childcare vouchers as more than 12 months will pass between your last order and when you return to work. A possible way around this is to ask your employer if they’re willing to fund a childcare voucher as part of a ‘keep in touch’ day during your maternity/paternity leave. This can be for the minimum amount - with Computershare it’s £20.
Your child is at school
Don’t forget you can use childcare vouchers in a number of childcare settings and for children up to 15 years old (or 16 if registered disabled).*
Always ask your childcare provider if they accept childcare vouchers.
*1 September following the child's 15th birthday or 1 September following their 16th birthday if they're registered disabled.
Your carer isn't registered
If your carer isn’t registered for childcare vouchers, you’re currently missing out on up to £933 and tax and NI savings (or £1,866 if both working parents use childcare vouchers). Give us their contact details – name & address - and we’ll get them set up for you.
To get started, email firstname.lastname@example.org
You're taking a payment 'holiday'
If you’ve built up a balance on your childcare account and are currently taking a payment ‘holiday’, you just need to ensure you take a voucher at least once every 12-months to ensure you remain eligible for childcare vouchers. This can be a one-off childcare voucher for the minimum amount – with Computershare it’s £20.
You're not currently using registered childcare
If you aren’t using registered childcare currently, but will again in the future, you need to receive at least one childcare voucher in every rolling 12-month period. This can be for the minimum amount – with Computershare it’s £20.
› You move jobs (your new employer won’t be able to accept new joiners on to their scheme from 4 October 2018)
› It’s more than 12 months since your last childcare voucher order
› You become self-employed or unemployed
› Your youngest child reaches the age of 15
However, your partner (if you have one) may still be eligible for childcare vouchers providing they’re registered on their employer’s scheme before 4 October 2018.
Note: we updated this blog to reflect the changing closing date of childcare vouchers from April to October.