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Childcare vouchers - should we stop getting them?

(7 Posts)
AliMonkey Mon 03-Nov-14 11:23:54

DH and I both get childcare vouchers through work. We get slightly more each year than we need (for breakfast club, after school club and occasional holiday club) - and once DD starts secondary will probably only use half of what we currently do.

So I'm trying to work out whether we should reduce what we take. My questions are:
1. Does anyone with secondary age children still use them? If so, what for? (I'm thinking holiday clubs - but suspect older children don't generally use these? - or possibly something like PGL holidays?)
2. DH in higher tax bracket so more benefit from him than from me. So should we stop mine immediately and his once we get to point where don't expect to use them? Or has anyone seen anything suggesting that they will be stopped in future (or eg stopped for higher rate tax payers or tax benefit reduced?) so we should both carry on while we can?
3. If I stop but stay with same employer, can I restart if need to in future or is that no longer going to be allowed?
4. Am I right in thinking that they can't be refunded if we don't need them? (Looks like it from DH's T&Cs, but I recall this was an option in previous job , so not sure if varies by scheme or rules have changed.)

My head is spinning with the potential options so any thoughts that might help clarify things would be great.

irregularegular Mon 03-Nov-14 11:28:50

I was told by my employer that provided I kept receiving a minimum amount (may have been £50 a month??) that I could always increase them again and get the full higher rate tax benefits. However, if I stopped them altogether I wouldn't be able to restart. I have children in Yr 6 and 8 and have cut them down once and will take them down to the minimum soon. I still use holiday clubs and will likely use them for a PGL holiday too.

irregularegular Mon 03-Nov-14 11:29:11

And no, I don't think they can be refunded or transferred.

InfinitySeven Mon 03-Nov-14 11:30:59

Some companies allow them to be refunded, but it's very rare. It's probably worth checking both T&Cs to make sure.

AliMonkey Mon 03-Nov-14 13:00:14

Thanks for your responses. Will look into possibility of reducing to minimum amount. It's a balance between trying to get the most tax advantage out of the scheme that we can without wasting it by ending up with unused money!

Interesting to see that you still use holiday clubs for Y8s - must admit I would like to as don't like the idea of my 11/12 year old being free to roam the streets for the day while I am at work, although guess I'll have to get comfortable with it by the time they are 15/16!

Babelange Mon 03-Nov-14 13:32:09

I reduced the monthly amount close to the minimum now both are at secondary (I think the scheme is �20 minimum; I reduced down to �25) but you can top up down the line. Last summer I sent 2 x DS on a PGL holiday for one week in July, with the extras (trip to Alton Towers & Drayton Manor Park which both attended) worked out about �500 per child. The voucher system worked out really well for 'saving up' over the course of a year. Also it's only the summer holidays that cause a problem for us; we alternate holidays (both work FT) and cross over for 1 week at Easter, Whitsun and 1 week in the summer holidays (take a week either side). Provision for 13+ year olds is lousy; even the holiday clubs which offer provision for older children in reality are full of 5-7 year olds. The range of activities offered was pretty good at PGL.

AliMonkey Mon 03-Nov-14 18:31:45

Thanks. We also cover most of school hols between us with odd day from my mum or occasionally a friend (we then return favour) but we usually use 3-4 days of school holiday club during summer for days when we would struggle. Can't see my DS ever being brave enough to do PGL as has anxiety issues - but hoping that will improve over next few years! Min amount sounds like the way to go to enable future top ups if necessary.

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