Many parents are finding managing their family budgets a real struggle during these difficult economic times, especially as household costs such as food, fuel, bills and childcare continue to rise. Reports have shown that childcare costs have risen 6% in the last year alone1, with some parents spending up to half of their salary on childcare. The Daycare Trust’s survey revealed that average childcare costs are now over £100 for a part-time place (25 hours) in many areas of the country. The average yearly spend on childcare for a child under two is £5,103. Choosing the right childcare provider is an important decision for any parent, however some are having to compromise quality for affordability due to the increase in costs.
Busy Bees Benefits are campaigning to make childcare costs more affordable for working parents. They have launched a national campaign, ‘Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap’, with the intention of persuading the government to raise the weekly childcare voucher cap allowance from £55 to £75. The current allowance was set by the government in 2006 and has not changed since. The aim of the campaign is to bridge the gap between the current cap allowance and the increasing cost of childcare.
Working parents get little help with the cost of their childcare; however employers offering Childcare Vouchers as an employee benefit are actively helping their staff to save money. They can be used to pay for any registered childcare for children up to the age of 16. Childcare vouchers are available via a salary sacrifice scheme; they are non-taxable and national insurance exempt. Working parents can exchange up to £243 per month, saving £9332 per year. Both parents in a household can join a childcare voucher scheme through their respective employers, potentially saving a family over £18002 per year.
The Mind the Gap – Raise the Cap campaign is centred around an e-petition set up by Busy Bees Group Managing Director, John Woodward. For the campaign to be a success and for the issue to be eligible for debate in the House of Commons the e-petition needs 100,000 signatures. The aim is to achieve a policy change in line with the 2013 budget. The e-petition can be signed at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31669.
The campaign has already been creating a buzz amongst staff and parents who attend Busy Bees nurseries. Employers offering childcare voucher schemes are also excited about the campaign, the more parents who can save on their childcare, the more they will be able to retain their staff even if childcare costs are increased some more.
Do you want to save on the cost of your childcare? Here’s how you can help:
Whether you are a parent, employer, carer or simply want to help make childcare costs more affordable, please support the campaign. Signing the e-petition is quick and easy. You can also follow the campaign activity and progress on the Busy Bees Benefits Facebook and Twitter pages. For more information visit www.busybeesbenefits.com.
1 Daycare Trust’s Annual Childcare costs survey 2012
2 Subject to individual circumstances