Let's help Working Families

Let’s get beyond the PR and really help Working Families, says Computershare Voucher Service (CVS) managing director Julian Foster.

Julian Foster

Julian Foster

IT'S CERTAINLY interesting working in an industry which has become a hot political topic. The relentless rise in childcare costs is literally emptying the bank balances of hard-working parents across the UK and – believe me – everyone in government knows it.

How do I know what they think? Because I’ve just given my second speech in the halls of power at Westminster in just over two months. In January I was at Downing Street addressing Education and Childcare minister Elizabeth Truss on behalf of the Childcare Voucher Providers Association.

Additionally, on March 4th I was proud to host a CVS-sponsored evening reception at The House of Lords for charity Working Families.

For those who don’t know, Working Families offer real-world advice to working parents and carers who need a better balance between home and work life.

Their free Helpline offers advice on employment rights in relation to maternity and paternity leave, rights to time off in an emergency and help in negotiating flexible hours. 

Working Families (website here) is a fantastic charity and CVS is proud to support it.

But the fact that it exists at all shows there is a need to support Britain’s vast pool of men and women who desperately want to be as dedicated employees as they are devoted parents.

It’s time to move beyond PR and focus on giving more support to parents as quickly as possible.

Keep up the support

The support offered by the UK’s childcare voucher scheme has not kept up with either the cost of living – or indeed the way we’re living.

By cost of living, I mean childcare fees have risen by 5% each year for the last five years.

If the tax exemption offered to basic rate taxpayers by vouchers is to keep pace, the limit should rise from its current £55 per week to £75.

And the system should recognise and support the way we’re living now. A record number are self-employed. But the self-employed cannot currently use childcare vouchers.

This particularly affects women, who make up 46% of the economically active population but make up only 26% of those who are self-employed.

By extending the scheme to the self-employed, the Government would be demonstrating a real commitment to those new mothers and fathers whose entrepreneurial spirit is core to the regeneration of the British economy.

With the Budget expected this month I would say to the Government that support can’t come soon enough.