Childcare Vouchers closing: FAQs

The Childcare Voucher scheme is now closed to new entrants as of 4.10.18

Here are some FAQs about the closure of Childcare Vouchers to new entrants, which came into effect on 4 October 2018.  If you’re a current user, you can continue to use Childcare Vouchers as long as you meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You completed a payment from your salary into your Childcare Voucher account before 4 October 2018
  • You have a child below the age of 15 (below the age of 16 if your child has a disability)
  • Paying into Childcare Vouchers does not take your income below the National Minimum or National Living Wage
  • You have not changed employer since 4 October 2018
  • You make at least one salary sacrifice in each 52 week period.

Please note: the Childcare Voucher scheme can only be used to pay for registered childcare costs

If you have any questions regarding Childcare Vouchers, or the closure of the scheme to new entrants, that are not answered here, please contact us directly on 0800 028 3008 and we will be pleased to offer free impartial and confidential advice.

  • The Childcare Voucher scheme is closed to ‘new entrants’ - what is meant by a ‘new entrant’?

    This means anyone not signed up to the Scheme before 4 October. Therefore, those parents with first born babies born after this date, families not previously registered, and current users who change employer after 4 October would be ‘new entrants’ who are unable to join the scheme.

  • I am already using Childcare Vouchers, can I continue to use them?

    You can continue to receive Childcare Vouchers as long as you remain eligible (see above). If you leave the scheme, or are no longer eligible, you can use up any outstanding Childcare Voucher balance in your account.

  • If I move to a new employer after October can I remain in the scheme?

    If you move to a new employer you will be treated as a new entrant to the scheme, therefore you will no longer be entitled to Childcare Vouchers through your new employer, however you will still be able to use any Childcare Vouchers that are in your account.

    You will still be able to access your Childcare Voucher account after you change jobs and will be able to continue to pay your childcare provider whilst there are funds remaining in your account.

  • How much can I pay into Childcare Vouchers per year?

    The amount you can pay into Childcare Vouchers depends on your income Tax Rate:

    • A Basic rate tax payer can sacrifice up to £55 per week – £2,915 per year
    • A Higher rate tax payer can sacrifice up to £28 per week – £1,484 per year.
    • An Additional rate tax payer can sacrifice up to £25 per week – £1,325 per year.

     

    Backdating:  If an employee has joined the scheme part way through a year or if they have been salary sacrificing less than their full allowance per month eg £150 instead of £243 (subject to certain rules) an employer can allow an employee to retrospectively claim their full entitlement to Childcare Vouchers. This in known as ‘backdating’. Please note:  This is subject to an employer’s discretion, and can only be used to avail of Childcare Vouchers within the current tax year.

  • I have only been sacrificing £1 per month, can I change this at any time?

    Yes, as long as you remain eligible (see above) you can continue to sacrifice a different amount each month or a set amount (eg £1 per month) each month. You can sacrifice up to £243 per month, and use this towards current childcare costs or allow the funds to build up in your voucher account for use at a later date. You may also be able to retrospectively claim your full entitlement, it’s called Backdating – see question 6. How much can I pay into Childcare Vouchers?

  • Can I continue to get Childcare Vouchers while I am on maternity leave/pay?

    Yes, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria (see above) and salary sacrifice from your salary over and above statutory maternity pay (SMP), for example, company maternity pay, Keeping In Touch (KIT) day or holiday pay. Your employer is not allowed to deduct Childcare Vouchers from your SMP.

    If you have no earnings over and above SMP your Childcare Vouchers will stop, however you will still be considered to be a member of the Scheme provided your account has been ‘active’ at least once (i.e. you have made a salary sacrifice for Childcare Vouchers) within a 52 consecutive week period.

  • I am expecting another baby - will I be able to continue to use Childcare Vouchers?

    Yes, as long as you remain eligible (see above). However, the maximum amount you can pay into Childcare Vouchers from your salary remains £243 per parent, per month, no matter how many children you have.

  • If I stop claiming Childcare Vouchers for a period of time - can I claim them in the future?

    If you need to take a break from using Childcare Vouchers for example, for a career break or maternity/paternity leave, you will still remain a registered user of Childcare Vouchers as long as you:

    1. Do not let your account remain inactive for more than 52 consecutive weeks – this means you must salary sacrifice as little as £1 during this period to keep your account ‘active’.
    2. Do not join Tax-Free Childcare, as you can’t go back into the Childcare Voucher scheme.

  • My employer is being bought over, can I continue to get Childcare Vouchers?

    Yes, where there is a business takeover or merger employees are protected under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) – TUPE - or COSOP regulations. These employees will not be treated as new joiners to the scheme. If the new employer does not offer the Childcare Voucher scheme they can start to do so however it will only be open to those eligible employees who were in the scheme prior to 4 October 2018 and are protected under TUPE or COSOP regulations.

  • I opened a Tax-Free Childcare account, can I now re-join the Childcare Voucher scheme?

    If you have previously been in the Childcare Voucher scheme, and left this to open, and have paid into, a Tax-Free Childcare Account you can’t re-join your employer’s Childcare Voucher scheme.