Parents urged to act to protect their financial savings

Many parents may be unaware they are at risk of losing out on the highest level of childcare voucher savings unless they act now, and here’s why...

Parents currently using childcare vouchers may be aware that last April the Government introduced new legislation lowering the savings limits for new joiners of the scheme.

This legislation had significant financial implications, particularly for those higher rate taxpayers who wished to sign up and make use of the savings.

For parents already on the scheme their level of savings was unaffected, but their existing level was only protected provided that they ordered childcare vouchers at least once in every twelve month period.

So many parents could now be in danger of losing out - unless they act quickly.

And it is not just higher and additional rate taxpayers who stand to lose out – see how this issue could affect you.

Higher or additional rate taxpayer

 If you are a higher or additional rate taxpayer who joined your employer's childcare voucher scheme before 6th April 2011, then while you remain eligible you have a right to a higher level of savings. This means you can receive up to £243 per month in childcare vouchers.

If you have ordered vouchers in the past twelve months, or do so now before the twelve months is up, then you will remain at this level for a further year. This will mean you are still able to make savings of up to £1,224* a year in tax and National Insurance payments if you are a higher rate taxpayer, or £1,516* a year if you are an additional rate taxpayer.

Basic rate taxpayer

For a basic rate taxpayer, you may also want to order childcare vouchers within this 12 month period to retain your protected rights. This means you will be able to receive childcare vouchers up to £243 per month if you ever become a higher rate taxpayer.

If you lose your protected rights then you can continue to receive childcare vouchers up to £243 per month, but ONLY while you remain a basic rate taxpayer. Remember, as a basic rate taxpayer you can still save up to £933 per annum in tax and National Insurance payments.

To order your vouchers, or if you would like any further information on this issue, then the team at CVS would be happy to help you. You can reach them on 0845 002 1111 (8am-8pm, Monday to Friday)

CVS launches ‘Let’s Get Kids Reading’ campaign for World Book Day

Today is World Book Day and we’ve launched a special campaign to help parents motivate and inspire their children to read. The ‘Let’s Get Kids Reading’ campaign has a dedicated Facebook page where parents will find practical advice, reviews and competitions – including the chance to win their child’s height in books!

We surveyed our parents to find out how long they spend reading with their children and it’s gold stars all round with 51% half dedicating 25 minutes a day to the task. An enthusiastic 20% of parents are reading even more – clocking up an impressive 42 minutes a day!

Busy parents face a number of time pressures and it’s very positive to see that despite this, a majority are reading with their children regularly - with a quarter even managing over five hours a week!

This is great news, as research suggests that children who are read to on a regular basis before they start school are most likely to succeed, and it is thought to be a key predictor of educational success.

Speaking earlier this month, School Minister Nick Gibb said that reading books for just half an hour a day could be worth up to 12 months’ extra schooling by the age of 15.

A report by The Literacy Trust* into young people aged 8 to 17 has also shown a direct link to attainment, with 8 in 10 children who read over 10 books a month being above average readers, compared to just 3 in 10 of those who rarely read. 

Parents are the most important reading role models for children and young people, according to The Trust, with mums taking the lead. 67% of parents who read to their children are mothers compared to just 17% of fathers.

Our ‘Let’s Get Kids Reading’ page let’s you get involved – not only can you find out what other parents are reading with their children and read reviews of some of the top children’s books but you can enter our competition to be in with a chance of winning a stack of books, as tall as your child, to fill those shelves with!

Visit the page, and ‘like’ us today!

To read the competition T&Cs, please click here.

Daycare Trust research shows 6% increase in nursery costs

Daycare Trust’s Childcare Costs Survey 2012 was released today. The research, sponsored by Computershare Voucher Services, shows that:

  • hourly childcare costs for a child under two have increased by 5.8%; and 

  • costs for a child aged two and over have risen by 3.9%.


In the same year period, wages have only increased by 0.3%.

Daycare Trust’s research coincides with new HMRC figures which reveal that 44,000 fewer families are receiving help with childcare costs as a result of the Government’s cut to financial support in April 2011. This saw the childcare element of Working Tax Credit cut from 80% of costs to 70% - as a result, the average claim has fallen by more than £10 per week, costing low-income working families who receive it more than £500 per year.  

The survey, conducted between November 2011 and January 2012, asked all Family Information Services in Britain about the cost and availability of childcare in their area. Other key stats revealed that:

  • the average hourly childcare costs now exceed £100 for 25 hours in many parts of Britain

  • the average yearly cost for a child under two is £5,103.

  • Britain’s most expensive nursery recorded this year charged £300 for 25 hours care – £15,000 for the year.

  • Over half of local authorities said that parents had reported a lack of childcare in the last year.


Anand Shukla, Chief Executive of Daycare Trust said: “These above-inflation increases in the cost of childcare are more bad news for families, heaping further pressure on their stretched budgets as wages remain stagnant and less help is available through tax credits.

“Daycare Trust warned that the Government’s decision to cut tax credits would mean that some families found that they were no longer better off going to work once they had paid for childcare. The latest HMRC figures reinforce Daycare Trust’s fear that the loss of this vital lifeline is forcing families out of work and in to poverty.

“Today we are calling on the Government to reverse its self-defeating childcare tax credit cut, and to deal decisively with the childcare affordability crisis for parents by pledging to provide free childcare for all two year-olds by the end of the current parliament.

Daycare Trust’s survey highlights the ever growing gap between working parents and affordable childcare.

Employers can do their bit to support employees by making flexible working a reality and introducing childcare voucher schemes. Schemes are cost neutral for companies to run and allow a basic rate earner to save nearly £1000 per year on their childcare costs.

Computershare Voucher Services fully supports Daycare Trust’s recommendations for improving accessibility to affordable childcare. We have been particularly heavily involved in the plan to extend childcare vouchers to self-employed and encourage entrepreneurship; a proposal that has already seen some Government support.

There have been several articles covering the report which you can read here:

Childcare cost rises 'may make parents quit their jobs' – BBC News

Childcare costs rise by nearly 6% - The Guardian

Childcare costs survey: nursery fees rise by 6 per cent in a year – Nursery World

CVS launches healthy families drive!

After December, the month of excess, January and February sees us flocking to the gym in droves and looking for ways for us and our families to be healthier in the coming year.


As a Dad with a young son, it’s a huge priority of mine to ensure that he is eating healthily. To make sure my wife and I have enough time to create healthy balanced meals for Gabriel, we make everything from scratch at the weekend – which only takes a couple of hours – put them in pop-out trays and freeze them. This means we can take something out each morning for his lunch and dinner and we know exactly what’s in his food. 


Gabriel


Gabriel's favourite is Annabel Karmel's Cod and Spinach recipe, which he gets very excited about, as you can see! 


To help inspire parents, CVS has launched ‘Health Kick’ our special healthy families drive, where we will be offering tips, advice and ideas on our blog and interactive Facebook page. You can choose from the following articles for advice from us and our guest bloggers:


Encouraging Children to Eat More Healthily – by Annabel Karmel

Healthy snack SOS!


Family bootcamp – top tips for family fitness by personal trainer Simon Parker

‘Super’ foods for kids


We’d love you to get involved and to share your own hints, tips and recipe ideas.


Perhaps you have a clever way to encourage children to get their five-a-day? Or maybe you have some fun ideas for getting more active as a family? Whatever your experiences, we’d love to hear from you, find us at www.facebook.com/computersharevoucherservices


CVS is the UK’s largest dedicated provider of childcare vouchers. We work with thousands of parents and carers across the UK. To find out more about childcare vouchers and how they could help you save up to £1866 a year, visit www.computersharevoucherservices.com


Vouchers for the self-employed model gains support from MPs

Pushing to extend childcare vouchers to the self-employed has been on our agenda for several years now and support for the idea is really gaining traction.

CVS – together with the other leading providers Edenred, Sodexo and Grass Roots – has been working for several months to put together a model that is workable, easy to implement and will ensure self-employed parents reap the same benefits as other working parents.

I had the honour of presenting our model to the Conservative Women's Forum at the House of Commons last Thursday and they’re keen to back the plans.

The model will allow self-employed parents to claim tax and National Insurance back at the end of the financial year – providers will be required to issue them with a certificate, detailing their childcare voucher spend for that year.

It’s piqued George Osbourn’s interest as well and made the pages of the Independent on Sunday this weekend. You can read the full article here, including a quote from me:

Tax break to encourage 'mumpreneurs' to start their own businesses

I’m delighted that we’ve put together a strong model which is being supported by such an influential group. Extending childcare vouchers to the self-employed supports the ethos of ‘Start-up Britain’ and will allow self-employed parents to enjoy the same £933 saving per annum as basic rate employees.

Of course, we’re not resting on our laurels now and will continue to support this model and work tirelessly to ensure vouchers for the self-employed become a reality.