Childcare Plus: frequently asked questions

The scheme is administered by Sodexo who will give you 24/7 access to your account via the internet or telephone in order to manage your payments.

Who is Eligible?

All employees of the University of Glasgow with fixed hours are eligible for the scheme, provided that they have a child who is of eligible age for childcare under this scheme (see definitions later in this guidance).

You can sign up at any time, provided that you are not currently on Maternity/Paternity leave, you do not earn less than the Pay Protection Limit (see FAQs) or, if your earnings would fall below the National Minimum Wage.

If you participate in any other parts of Benefits Plus then these will also be taken into account when deciding if you participate in Childcare Plus (please refer to FAQs for more details).

 


What is Childcare Plus?

This is a salary sacrifice scheme which provides a tax and NI efficient way to pay towards childcare costs using childcare vouchers.

Childcare vouchers can be used to cover regulated (e.g. Care Inspectorate approved) childcare, including, but not limited to, nurseries, child minders, nannies, wrap around care, school trips, tuition, school holiday clubs.

There is no charge to either you or your chosen carer(s) for participating in Childcare Plus. The University, as your employer, makes a saving on employers' National Insurance contributions on the amount you decide to sacrifice. These savings allow the University to pay for administering the scheme, so there is no real cost to the University as the employer.

 


What are the instructions for joining Childcare Plus?

To register you should contact hr-ppr@glasgow.ac.uk who will arrange for a welcome email to be sent to you with instructions on how to register yourself and your childcare provider with the scheme administrator.

Prior to accessing your Childcare Voucher account you will also need to contact your childcare provider to obtain their Sodexo ID number.

When you register on the Sodexo website you will need your Staff ID Number and NI Number (both can be found on your electronic payslip on the HR/Payroll System).


How does Childcare Plus work?

The University will carry out a Basic Earnings Assessment when you join the scheme, which will determine the maximum amount of vouchers you can choose to receive. You can join the scheme before the Basic Earnings Assessment is carried out, but your order may be amended if you have requested more vouchers than permitted.

Once you have registered yourself and your carer(s) via the Childcare Voucher website the scheme administrators will use the information you have provided to ensure that your chosen childcare provider is registered or approved, and therefore eligible to receive your childcare vouchers. No payment will be made to any carer who is not registered or approved as this contravenes HM Revenue & Customs guidelines.

You can set up payment to your childcare provider through the Childcare Voucher website or by calling on 0800 328 7411.  There is also the facility within the system to set up standing orders, so that if you have a regular payment to a childcare provider on a weekly or monthly cycle, you can automate the whole process.

Your first deduction will take place in the pay period following your registration. Please note that you must register by the 10th of the month (or last working day before) to be on that month’s order.

You will receive your benefit amount in your Childcare Voucher account on payday that month. If you register after the 10th, you may have to wait until the following month to be included. Your  account will be credited with the full order amount. It is then up to you. You can use as little or as much of the credit as you like. You can access the account via the Internet or on 0800 328 7411.

 


What's the maximum I can receive and how much can I save?

The amount of vouchers that you can receive and the savings made is directly linked to your level of income, your rate of income tax and rate of National Insurance Contributions.

Post 6 April 2011 joiners:  the amount of vouchers you can take is dependent on your tax rate:

Tax Rate

Maximum amount of vouchers

Maximum Tax/NI Savings

 (Based on   tax year 2014/15)

Basic (20%)

£243 per month/£2,915 per year

£933pa

Higher (40%)

£124 per month/£1,484 per year

£623pa*

Additional (45%)

£110 per month/£1,325 per year

£622pa*

Pre 6 April 2011 joiners:  regardless of your tax rate, you can take a maximum monthly amount of £243 per month. 

Tax Rate

Maximum amount of vouchers

Maximum Tax/NI Savings

 (Based on   tax year 2014/15)

Basic (20%)

£243 per month/£2,915 per year

£933pa

Higher (40%)

£243 per month/£1,484 per year

£1,225pa

Additional (45%)

£243 per month/£1,325 per year

£1,370pa

In order to receive Vouchers you must be in receipt of at least National Minimum Wage or the University's Pay Protection Limit when your salary has been reduced. This is essential in order that you do not lose your entitlement to certain state benefits and is a prerequisite of joining the scheme.

Please note that if you have been in receipt of childcare vouchers prior to 2011 and have recently joined the University from another organisation, you will not be able to retain the pre-2011 tax/NI savings.

 

 


Can I change the amount of vouchers I receive?

Yes, you can change this throughout the year to reflect your childcare requirements. To change your voucher amount, please log in to your Sodexo account and request this. 

If you are on maternity/paternity leave and currently in receipt of vouchers you can remain in the scheme but you cannot increase the amount. 


What happens when my employment earnings change during the year? Will it affect the basic earnings assessment?

The University will assess your predicted employment income at the beginning of the tax year or when you first apply to join the Scheme. This will determine the maximum level of childcare vouchers that you can receive income tax and National Insurance savings on for that tax year. If your pay changes during the course of the year this may mean that the maximum amount of childcare vouchers that you can choose to receive will change from the start of the following tax year when the University carries out another basic earnings assessment. The University will only carry out an earnings assessment once per year.  If your maximum limit changes you will be notified by the University once the earnings assessment had been undertaken.

For example, if you change the number of hours that you work and this would place you in a different tax band for your employment income, the basic earnings assessment carried out at the start of the tax year will remain valid until the next assessment takes place.


What happens if I leave the scheme or temporarily reduce my vouchers?

You can temporarily leave the scheme for a period of up to 12 months.  To do this, please log on to your Sodexo account and request to reduce your voucher amount to zero. 

Please note, if you request to re-join the scheme after a period of 12 months, your request will be processed in the same manner as a new joiner and we will conduct a Basic Earnings Assessment. 

If you were subject to pre-April 2011 scheme guidelines and request to re-join after a period of 12 months, you will be considered a new joiner also.


What’s the maximum amount of Childcare Plus I can opt to receive?

If you joined Childcare Plus before 6th April 2011 you are eligible to receive up to £243 per month (£2,916 per year) in the form of Sodexo childcare vouchers account credit. 

If you opted to join Childcare Plus from the 6th of April 2011 the maximum amount of childcare vouchers that you can choose to receive will depend on the rate of tax that you pay.

Maximum Childcare Plus vouchers amounts from 6th April 2011

 Tax Category

 per month

 annual equivalent

 Basic Rate tax payers

 £243

£2916 

 Higher Rate tax payers

 £124

 £1484

 Additional rate tax payers

 £110

 £1166

In order to receive Vouchers you must be in receipt of at least National Minimum Wage or the University's Pay Protection Limit when your salary has been reduced.  This is essential in order that you do not lose your entitlement to certain state benefits and is a prerequisite of joining the scheme.  National Minimum Wage is currently set at £6.08 per hour (effective 1 October 2011) and the Pay Protection Limit is set at £7,600.  You must earn at least this amount after the value of your Childcare Vouchers has been deducted.

Please refer to the Calculator.  This will help you to work out what your savings could be through joining Childcare Plus.


Qualifying childcare provision

You can use your vouchers to pay for registered or approved childcare up to the age of 15.  This may include breakfast clubs, after school clubs, nurseries, childminders, after school activities, holiday camps and certain elements of independent school fees.

The current registration and approval bodies include:

  • The Care Inspectorate (Scotland)
  • Ofsted Childcare Register – Compulsory (England)
  • Ofsted Childcare Register – Voluntary (England)
  • Local Health and Social Services Trusts (Northern Ireland)
  • Childcare Approval Scheme (Wales)
  • The Care and Social Services Inspectorate (Wales)

Your childcare provider will be able to inform you whether they are registered with the appropriate regulator.

 


What are the qualifying ages for children in Scotland & England?

In Scotland and England, the child for whom the childcare voucher is provided must be a child of the employee or a child who lives with the employee and for whom he or she has parental responsibility.

A child qualifies up to 1st September following their 15th birthday or the 1st September following their 16th birthday if he or she is disabled.  The childcare used must be registered as specified.


I don’t have fulltime childcare requirements; do I still qualify for this scheme?

Yes, however, you will still be required to take a fixed sacrifice from your salary each pay period.  These sacrificed earnings will build up in your Sodexo childcare account until such time as you need to pay your childcare provider.

For example, you may use a summer holiday play scheme – A small deduction would come from your salary each pay period and would be credited to your Sodexo childcare account.  When you need to pay for the play scheme, you simply access your Sodexo childcare account and authorise them to pay an amount that you choose to the provider of your choice.  Sodexo will then, on your behalf, make a direct payment to your care provider’s bank account.
This can be a very useful way to budget for your childcare as well as gaining a financial benefit through income tax and NI savings.


How does my carer get paid?

You access your childcare account via the Internet or telephone and authorise a direct payment to be made directly to your nominated childcare.

When you initially join the scheme, you will be able to enter all of your carer’s details so that the childcare voucher scheme administrator are able to check that they are registered or approved as required and so that they can subsequently make payments to them upon your request. There is no charge to you or your carer for each transaction. You are able to set up new carers on your childcare voucher account as and when you childcare provider changes either through the Childcare Voucher website or by calling 0800 328 7411.


Can I pay more than one carer through the Sodexo system?

Yes. Providing that all of the forms of childcare you employ meets the qualifying criteria then you can use as many childcare providers as you wish. This gives you the flexibility you need as the child/children get older and you have different childcare requirements.


Could my partner also enter into this scheme and make savings?

Yes, the salary sacrifice scheme applies to individual earners, so if your partner works for the University or another organisation that offers a similar salary sacrifice scheme, then they may also be able to make savings on the cost of your childcare: potentially doubling your savings.


Will my other benefits (eg overtime, pension, share options, bonuses etc) be affected if I decide to join the Sodexo scheme?

All of your University of Glasgow benefits (Pension, Holiday Pay, Overtime etc.) will be based on your pre-sacrifice reference salary, so there will be no negative impact on these should you decide to join the Childcare Vouchers Scheme.


I receive tax credits: what’s the effect on these if I decide to join the scheme?

If you are currently in receipt of Child Tax credits, you should carefully consider the impact that entering the scheme may have on these. Because everyone’s circumstances are different it is difficult to give you a precise picture of what the effect may be in your case.  HM Revenue and Customs provide an online calculator that can be viewed at www.hmrc.gov.uk/calcs/ccin.htm

If you are unsure, you should contact the tax credit helpline:  0345 300 3900

Further guidance on Childcare Vouchers and tax credits can be viewed at:


What happens to my Childcare Vouchers if I start or leave employment at the University of Glasgow part of the way through a month?

You will receive a proportion of the Childcare Vouchers you normally receive, pro rata to the proportion of the month that you are employed at the University of Glasgow.


Further Information (Scotland)

To find out if your child carer is registered contact:
The Care Inspectorate

  • By phoning 0345 600 9527

All childcare in Scotland listed under www.careinspectorate.com is registered care.


Further Information (England)

To find out if your child carer is registered or approved contact:
Office for Standards in Education (OfSted)

  •  By phoning 0845 601 4771;

On the Internet at www.ofsted.gov.uk: quoting the Unique Reference (URN) for registered childcare.  This number will appear on your child carer’s last registration certificate.


What happens when the new Government tax-free childcare scheme is introduced in 2017?

Our childcare voucher scheme will not be changing as a result of the introduction of the Government’s new tax-free childcare scheme due to be introduced in 2017.

If you are currently in the childcare voucher scheme when the new scheme is introduced, you will have the option to choose to participate in whichever scheme best meets your needs.  You can remain in it until your child reaches 15, as long as you don’t change employer.

If you are not in receipt of childcare vouchers when the new scheme is introduced you will not be able to join the childcare voucher scheme.

The table below details the key differences between the two schemes:

Current Scheme   (Childcare Vouchers)

New Scheme   (Tax-free Childcare Scheme)

Only available to those whose employer is a member of   the scheme.

Available to all qualifying parents – single   parents/couples must work more than 8 hours per week.

Both parents can claim the maximum value of childcare   vouchers dependent on their individual tax rate (£243 basic/£123 higher)   providing savings on tax and National Insurance via salary sacrifice.

20% of childcare costs per child up to a total of   £10,000 – the equivalent of £2,000 childcare support per child per year.

No earnings limit

Not available if either parent earns over £150,000

Available to children up to 1 September after their 15th   birthday (16th birthday if they are disabled).

Initially available to all children up to age 5 and all   children under 12 within the first year and 17 for children with   disabilities.

Parents currently on this scheme can choose to remain   in it after the launch of the new scheme providing they don’t change   employer, thus giving them greater flexibility to choose the scheme which   best meets their requirements.

Once enrolled onto this scheme parents will not be able   to change onto the childcare voucher scheme at a later date.

   

Both: Can be used to cover regulated (e.g. Care Inspectorate approved) childcare,   including, but not limited to, nurseries, child minders, nannies, wrap around   care, school trips, tuition, school holiday clubs.

 

Unfortunately, the University is unable to provide you with specific advice as to which scheme would best suit your childcare requirements. 

The University’s Childcare Voucher scheme is operated by Sodexo which has more details on the forthcoming changes and also a calculator which will provide you with a breakdown of savings you can receive through the current Childcare Voucher scheme:

http://uk.benefits-rewards.sodexo.com/employee/childcare-vouchers

 


Updated: January 2015

How do I change my childcare provider?

Simply log in to the Sodexo website and select "My Childcare Providers" and make the necessary changes.