Northern Ireland MPs must do right by parents and businesses

*Updated Friday 16 February 2018

Employers For Childcare is calling on local MPs to do all they can to halt the proposed closure of the Childcare Voucher scheme [1] to new entrants in April 2018. The call to action comes today (Friday 26 January 2018) just two months before new parents and businesses here look set to lose out on significant savings. Employers For Childcare urges the Government to keep Childcare Vouchers open alongside the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme so parents have a comprehensive package of support and choice when it comes to paying for childcare.

Aoife Hamilton, Policy and Information Manager, said: “Employers For Childcare is calling on our local MPs to do all they can to halt the proposed closure of the Childcare Voucher scheme.  There is still a window of opportunity to keep the scheme open to new entrants, but that time is diminishing. This is critical as 66% of parents who receive a personalised calculation from us are better off using Childcare Vouchers and/or Tax Credits rather than Tax-Free Childcare[2]. Employers For Childcare wants our local MPs to sign an Early-Day Motion (EDM) calling for Childcare Vouchers to be kept open alongside Tax-Free Childcare. To date (as of February 2), only five have done so.

“Employers For Childcare wants our local representatives to make the voices of families and businesses heard in Westminster.  We know that 12,000 parents here gain a combined saving of £9.1 million each year from using Childcare Vouchers[3].  Parents who call our free Family Benefits Advice Service helpline tell us they are exasperated at the crippling cost of childcare. In a third of homes here the childcare bill is the biggest family outgoing, exceeding even the mortgage/rent payment. So why narrow the already limited options for financial assistance that are available? Government has a duty to support working parents rather than penalise them by closing a scheme which is fit for purpose, saves families up to £1,866[4] a year and can be used in combination with other forms of support.

“Working parents also tell us their household income is overstretched and they feel Government should be supporting them rather than taking away the Childcare Voucher scheme.  Over 2,600 parents here signed a Petition to Keep Childcare Vouchers open, we call on their MPs to listen to them!

“Not only does the Childcare Voucher scheme put money in the pockets of parents it also provides huge savings for employers. Employers in Northern Ireland saved at least £3.9 million[5] on National Insurance contributions through offering Childcare Vouchers, money they can invest back into our local economy. At a time when local businesses are doing their best dealing with Brexit, a non-existent Executive and the possibility of direct rule, Government should be nurturing and investing in our local economy but if this scheme closes, that money could be lost. This saving is not taken from the block grant but directly from the Treasury.  That means at least £3.9 million dwindling from the NI economy that those businesses could have reinvested. Our MPs must do the right thing by local business and they must do it now”.

Aoife Hamilton turns her attention to what parents and employers can do to help in this call; “Support local parents and employers by lobbying your MP. You can do so by following these simple steps:

Click on and enter your post code to find your local MP.

Click on your MP’s name to see their voting record.

Click on the “send a message” button near the top left of the page.

Ask your MP to support the Early-Day Motion and make your voice heard.

“Employers For Childcare has always promoted that we all, Government, public, private and the third sector have a duty to help parents get in to work and stay in work.  We must all work together to ease the burden of childcare costs on families here.”

Remember, some parents will be better off on Tax-Free Childcare, or a mix of Childcare Vouchers and/or Child tax credits, it is a complicated landscape for families to navigate but Employers for Childcare’s Family Benefits Advice Service is here to help. Call our team on 0800 028 3008 or email, for a free, confidential and impartial personalised calculation setting out which support your family is entitled to and how you can be better off.

[1] The Childcare Voucher scheme lets parents’ salary sacrifice £243 of their salary per month which is exempt from tax and National Insurance contributions.  Businesses also make a saving as the amount each parent swaps from their salary is exempt from National Insurance Contributions

[2] 66% of 5115 callers* are better off on Childcare Vouchers or Tax Credits than Tax-Free Childcare. *as of Jan 2018

[3] Employers For Childcare Social Impact Report, November 2017

[4] A parent can save up to £77.76 per month or £933 per year on National Insurance Savings, two parents in one household both using Childcare Vouchers can save £1,866 per year.

[5] Employers For Childcare Social Impact Report, November 2017