UK closes new entry to childcare voucher schemes for working mothers UK closes new entry to childcare voucher schemes for working mothers

UK closes new entry to childcare voucher schemes for working mothers
09 Oct 2018

The UK government has now closed new entry to childcare voucher schemes, which allow staff to sacrifice some of their salary in return for subsidised childcare costs. 

Although people who are already enrolled on a programme will continue to receive the benefit, they will not be able to rejoin it if they leave or sign up to another organisation’s plan if they change jobs. The scheme is being replaced by tax-free childcare, which will be run via Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.

But some employees will be financially worse off if they abandon vouchers in favour of the new scheme, according to experts. 

Julie Barker, board member of the Childcare Voucher Providers Association and senior manager for product management at Hawk Incentives, said: "It's a real shame that the government has moved ahead with the plans to close the childcare voucher scheme to new entrants. Not only has this been a game-changing benefit for a huge number of employees up and down the country, it's also been a really transformational way for businesses to support their working parents and show they're invested in making affordable childcare a reality for their staff."

A survey conducted by The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s People Management, which was published last year, revealed that 90% of readers worked for an organisation that ran a childcare voucher scheme. 

Meanwhile, figures from the Office of National Statistics revealed that almost half of working mothers are in now part-time roles, a higher figure than ever before. 

Yvonne Gallagher, employment partner at Harbottle and Lewis, said: “Flexible work offerings have improved steadily, and new initiatives such as gender pay gap reporting – and to some extent, shared parental leave – have helped shine a light on the issues faced by working mothers. However, where flexible working opportunities are still not available, there’s a real question to be asked about how far a requirement for full-time working impacts more harshly on women with dependent children, and therefore potentially amounts to indirect discrimination on grounds of sex."

Between April and June this year, 74% of women with dependent children were employed, up from 68.9% in 2013 and 61.9% in 1996, when comparable records started. The proportion of employed men with dependent children also increased to a record high of 93.1%, up from 90% in 2013 and 87% in 1996.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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The UK government has now closed new entry to childcare voucher schemes, which allow staff to sacrifice some of their salary in return for subsidised childcare costs. 

Although people who are already enrolled on a programme will continue to receive the benefit, they will not be able to rejoin it if they leave or sign up to another organisation’s plan if they change jobs. The scheme is being replaced by tax-free childcare, which will be run via Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.

But some employees will be financially worse off if they abandon vouchers in favour of the new scheme, according to experts. 

Julie Barker, board member of the Childcare Voucher Providers Association and senior manager for product management at Hawk Incentives, said: "It's a real shame that the government has moved ahead with the plans to close the childcare voucher scheme to new entrants. Not only has this been a game-changing benefit for a huge number of employees up and down the country, it's also been a really transformational way for businesses to support their working parents and show they're invested in making affordable childcare a reality for their staff."

A survey conducted by The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s People Management, which was published last year, revealed that 90% of readers worked for an organisation that ran a childcare voucher scheme. 

Meanwhile, figures from the Office of National Statistics revealed that almost half of working mothers are in now part-time roles, a higher figure than ever before. 

Yvonne Gallagher, employment partner at Harbottle and Lewis, said: “Flexible work offerings have improved steadily, and new initiatives such as gender pay gap reporting – and to some extent, shared parental leave – have helped shine a light on the issues faced by working mothers. However, where flexible working opportunities are still not available, there’s a real question to be asked about how far a requirement for full-time working impacts more harshly on women with dependent children, and therefore potentially amounts to indirect discrimination on grounds of sex."

Between April and June this year, 74% of women with dependent children were employed, up from 68.9% in 2013 and 61.9% in 1996, when comparable records started. The proportion of employed men with dependent children also increased to a record high of 93.1%, up from 90% in 2013 and 87% in 1996.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

New UK childcare voucher scheme to "plunge employers into unknown"

Switzerland boosts childcare subsidy for highly-skilled parents

Japan proposes making childcare services free for all three and five year olds

 

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