Are people taking advantage of childcare schemes?
Childcare vouchers schemes across the UK are undoubtedly becoming more popular over time and employers are starting to see the value in improving levels of access to reward systems. But with the recent announcement that an estimated 165,000 people missed a deadline to collect child benefit payments owed to them, can more be done?
Recent government policies mean better-off families need to have a self-assessment with the HM Revenue and Customs service if they expect to receive the payment, but if this is not completed they can face a penalty and a reduction in allowance.
Many employers are helping their staff to access these self-assessments, but weaknesses remain in some smaller businesses, who do not see childcare as a priority and may even believe it is a matter to be handled by personnel at home and should not ‘enter the office’, so to speak.
This is a regressive way of thinking and only serves to damage the reputation of guilty businesses who could face a workforce-wide lack of evangelisation, as well as a more general reduction in morale, retention and engagement.
To combat this, a number of third party providers, including City of London-based You at Work, have released their own childcare voucher solutions. Not only do these platforms allow staff members to register for their child benefits self-assessments more effectively, but they also ensure tax free savings of up to 20 per cent on nursery or after-school care.
Parents will know just how much this can help, especially with energy and food bills rising elsewhere as the economy comes out of recession.
While previously family life remained outside the domain of the office, with bosses reluctant to help improve the out-of-office lives of employees, this is quickly changing, with cutting-edge businesses realising the importance of ensuring their personnel’s most pressing concerns are being taken care of – whether personal or professional.
Balancing a family and a job is very difficult at the best of times, especially with increasing numbers of mums and dads choosing to both take up employment, but simple steps – including the introduction of child voucher solutions can really help to improve bank balances at a time when we all really need it.
Whose fault is low take-up?
But despite the impressive savings on offer from childcare vouchers, take-up is often low and some businesses have reported that their workforce is not interested in using its tax-free platform. This, strange as it may seem, may actually be the employer’s fault.
No matter how good the savings may be (and at 20 per cent they are substantial), poorly implemented infrastructure and an excess number of logins could ward off even the most dedicated of penny-squeezers.
So what can be done? We hate to keep harping on about it, but You at Work recently brought out a critically-acclaimed benefits platform that allows employees to access all of their rewards and perks in one place via one password.
Implementing a third-party system like this can really help in preventing low take-up and if employees are consulted about what benefits they actually want and will use, this will also improve satisfaction.
It is clear with childcare vouchers set to take centre stage in the coming years, executives can no longer afford to ignore poorly implemented infrastructure.