The idea of childcare vouchers is a really good one- that must be why the Labour government are looking to abolish them. Basically each parent can surrender up to £243 from their pre tax salary to go into vouchers to pay for childcare. This means that you save the tax on the money. £243 of childcare costs me £146, which over the course of a year adds up.
It still adds up if the voucher provider is useless and:
- deducts the money but doesn’t provide you with the voucher;
- has a touch tone phone system that takes a minute to get through and then tells you to hang up;
- doesn’t respond to emails to customer support;
- doesn’t respond to emails to your account manager.
One of my colleagues actually got the name of one of the directors off the internet and emailed him to see if he could do anything, the support was that bad. Myself, I sent an email every hour for a day and threatened to carry on doing so until they replied. No-one replied.
As it stands, my October voucher was issued on 8 October 2009, should have been available to me on 31 October and as of today, 13 November, still isn’t available for me.
Computershare have variously told the chap who administers it here that no carer was included on the order (there was a carer on the order), they’ve raised another invoice (there was already one in place), and they’ve realised they hadn’t taken payment (we’ve now passed two deadlines when they said it would have been taken and cleared so the voucher would be accessable).
Consequently, despite having £146 deducted from my pay, I’ve had to write a cheque for £243 to our childminder to cover the administrative debacle from Computershare Childcare Vouchers. In the long term this doesn’t matter as our childcare costs exceed the value of the monthly vouchers we can claim but it is still shambolic and simply not good enough.
So in my mind, if your employer is looking to set up a childcare voucher scheme, warn them off Computershare Childcare Vouchers and if your employer uses them, keep a hawk like eye on your account.