Extend vouchers to the self-employed – guest blog from Roger Williams MP

Roger Williams MP

Following Antonia’s blog earlier this month which focussed on the importance of providing more support to entrepreneurial parents, our blog this week comes from Roger Williams MP who is keen to see childcare vouchers extended to the self-employed.

Childcare vouchers are an employee benefit that currently allows over 700,000 families to ensure that their children can receive high quality childcare whilst the parents go to work in circumstances where the cost of childcare, which is rising at a rapid rate, might otherwise prevent them from doing so.

Unfortunately, those parents who are self-employed do not currently qualify for childcare vouchers as they are considered not to have an employer. This is because childcare vouchers are listed as ‘employer supported childcare’.

I recently raised this issue with the chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander MP, in a meeting of the Welsh Grand Committee in Westminster and urged him to press for the extension of this scheme to those parents who are self-employed.

This is an issue that causes problems in my constituency, Brecon and Radnorshire. It is an area that is extremely rural – it is the largest / most sparsely populated constituency in England and Wales – and it has a large number of people who are self-employed, whether in tourism, agriculture, forestry or other small start-up businesses.

Encouraging the private sector and the growth of small start-up business will need to be a central plank of Government plans to encourage a private-sector led economic recovery and the extension of childcare vouchers to the self-employed would be a big step in removing childcare costs as a barrier to starting up a new business.

Not only would it be of benefit to the UK economy in general but in my constituency, and numerous others, it would give a big boost to the local economy.

Getting started in business is hard enough but for those who are self-employed and do not have the same level of support it is even harder and it seems to me that steps should be taken to help support entrepreneurs, sole-traders and other self-employed parents.

Following the meeting of the Welsh Grand Committee I also wrote to the Treasury for their thoughts on this matter and to encourage them to consider extending childcare provision. At the time of writing I am still awaiting a response but this is an issue I will continue to monitor and press the Chancellor and his team on.

These opinions are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Computershare Voucher Services.