Busy Bees nursery vouchers raw deal 4 teachers!(21 Posts)
Have had notice that DFES has ruled that teachers can no longer be part of 'salary sacrifice' schemes to help meet cost of childcare! This is a disgrace - especially as the government allowed vouchers to be exempt from tax and National Insurance up to £217 a month for ALL working parents!(angry) Am contacting MP and NUT. Are there anyother teachers in the same boat?
Why have they done this? What's their rationale?
i know it's not high on most people's interest list on a Saturday night but does anyone know any more about this?
may not be very interesting but is a bl*dy outrage! Basically DFES has said that it is unlawful for teachers to be part of such a scheme as it doesn't comply with statutory pay and conditions document for teachers. However workers all over the country benefit - those in naitonal retail chians, NHS Trusts and Council workers for example. Even the Chamber of Commerce and Industry is setting itself up to provide the vouchers! Am outraged and not just for myself but working parents in education as a whole. Voted labour as my family had benefitted from the Government - child tax credit and free nursery places etc, and then 1 month later thisIf only I'd have known!!
This makes no sense to me - surely it would be unlawful for teachers to be the only ones unable to benefit from the system?
I can't believe there isn't a way arouind this.
In any case, my LEA is really dragging its heels about joining a scheme.
Might start to harrass them - I presume that if DP is not a teacher, he can go through the system instead of me? Crap if both are teachers though.
Think this is outrageous. I work in education for the LEA and my County Council doesn't do these at the moment - I'm gonna give them a kick up the arse when I go back after maternity leave.
Hello, employers this scheme saves you money as you don't pay as much employers national insurance contributions - and schools this means more in your budgets!!!!
Rowlers - there's nothing to stop both parents getting it, even if you only have one child, so your dp can get it as well as you (though obviously no point if your childcare is less than £50 per week) as long as you can persuade his employers to offer the scheme.
Just to point out, that for anyone who gets part of the childcare element of CTC (i.e. for most people that means you get more thatn £10 a week, or more than £20 if you have a child under one), then the vouchers don't actually gain you anything, as for CTC calculation purposes they reduce your income as well as your childcare costs, and the net effect of losing CTC cancels out the tax/NI saving. There are exceptions - like parents with very different incomes so one pays higher rate tax but between you your income still qualifies you for the childcare part of CTC. I've posted more figures about this recently - see here .
I'm a school bursar and we've operated vouchers for ages, but have just had to stop operating them for teachers because the DfES, on behalf of the teachers pension scheme has ruled that such "salary sacrifice" schemes are invalid and the amount sacrificed can't count as pension.
This is really stupid - and it's a big embarrasment for the governmant that pension schemes are putting this obstacle in the way of staff getting their tax and NI breaks on £50 per week of childcare. I believe this also is the case for NHS pensions, too.
Many councils (who are the teachers' employers) are trying to set up schemes, but have stalled because of this problem. They could set them up, but teachers wouild have to be excluded. They are trying to resolve it ...the feeling at my local council from the chap progressing the scheme is that it will be resolved eventually.
If you are a teacher and want these tax breaks, then kick up a fuss with your school/LEA...to put pressure on the government. But beware if you had had vouchers before now (when you saved NI on the whole voucher amount) - the advice at teachers pensions is to backtrack over your salary history and refund you some pension contributions, thus possibly affecting your salary!
To non teachers - hassle your employer to get the vouchers through which you can claim tax breaks - we use Busy Bees (search on google). They are easy to administer, but I have to say the company/school doesn't now save much money - the admin costs wipe out the small savings.
Thanks 4 your advice Lowri. I was aware of effect on pension, and weighed it up on balance of affordable childcare. Am really angry that my freedom of choice has been taken. Found what you said really interesting. Husband can claim , but monthy childcare bill is about £550 for nursery and schoolclub. Me claiming as well would have really made a difference! Am awaiting response from MP/NUT - I urge others to do the same! Am working with other collegues to put the pressure on! Husband is curious to know that if company pensions are effected in the same way, how can the vouchers schemes work at all with private companies! I suspect DFES is running scared, worrying it will affect their pension commitments?
Alibubbles - I believe most independent schools use "Teachers' Pensions" as the teachers pension provider, in which case this will affect them too. Look at your last Annual Estimate of Benefits - if it says "Teachers' Pensions" at the top then that's the scheme you're in. Or just ask the school. By the way, an interesting cash flow improvement technique for independent schools is to make pension deductions, then not pass the £ over to the pension scheme for ages...I'm sure your school wouldn't dream of doing that, though!
Bilbs - Re other pension schemes...I think this could crop up as a problem with private sector schemes as they realise that vouchers are being issued in lieu of salary, but perhaps they will be more pragmatic about it and ignore some buried sub-section, paragraph etc etc that prohibits it.
Teachers' Pensions is a public sector scheme, perhaps that's why they're going on the letter of the law? Other public sectors schemes are OK - perversely as a non-teacher working in a school I belong to the Local Government Employers scheme and I can have vouchers no problem! So we are issuing vouchers to non-teaching staff, but not teachers!!! Light the blue touchpaper and step back.......(As it happens the £'000's I have spent on childcare over the years finished last year - arrggghh)
mmn I don't understand- bit thick after day at work. I get nursery vouchers for my dd and I am a teacher -will these be ok? Can i not apply for child tax credit then now either to cover childcare costs?
sarochka - technically when you apply to tax credit you should give them your income AFTER the value of the vouchers has been deducted, and declare your childcare costs as AFTER the voucher payment.
bilbs - I get the vouchers from my employer as part of a "flexible benefits" package where we can choose various options, like increasing/reducing holiday, life assurance, critical illness cover, dental and health insurance etc. But pension contributions (and pensionable salary for that matter as it's a final salary scheme) are based on notional salary - i.e. the amount before they make the adjustments for the options you choose.
Both dh and I are teachers and have not been advised of any of this... Does this mean it is only the case in certain councils or are ours about to hit us with a bomb shell. We both claim maximum allowed every month.
By the way, we have had vouchers for last 3 months no problem. Are all of these vouchers run by busy bees? They were VERY helpful on phone. I'll try to dig out number.
mum2max - I have heard of another provider - ACCOR.
It was actually Busy Bees that forwarded the information to my school, after DFES contacted them. The letter said 'local education authorites have recently been advised that the availability of the scheme to teachers is unlawful.' So I assume that's all of us! Contact your Union, we need to kick up a fuss!
Surrey CC use accor, i've had vouchers in the past but have opted out again as have been on mat leave (back yestaday) but we had to opt in for a year at a time.
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