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Employers concerned about childcare voucher scheme overhaul


Less than a third of employers think the Government's overhaul of the childcare voucher scheme for working parents is a positive step, according to research by the Childcare Vouchers Providers Association (CVPA).

A quarter of the 1,600 companies polled by the CVPA thought it was a bad idea, with 44% undecided.

Under Government plans, which will be outlined later today, families with two working parents on less than £150,000 will receive childcare vouchers worth up to £1,200 a year for each child.

Under the current childcare voucher scheme, parents can only claim the vouchers if their employer has signed up to the scheme.

The research found 65% of employers that offer childcare vouchers said they were important for their retention strategies. And 94% of employers said that offering childcare vouchers was important in improving the family friendly work environment.

There are worries the new scheme will freeze employers out of the childcare process, weakening retention strategies.

"The role of the employer in the current childcare voucher scheme has been a fundamental reason for its success," said Paul Bartlett, director at the CVPA.

"Ensuring there is a link between the new scheme and employers will help build on this success, and guarantee employers can still play an important role in helping their staff with their childcare costs."

Expanded scheme

The Government is also expected to expand the scheme to include parents who stay at home because they are carers, and to parents on maternity or paternity leave. Households with a stay-at-home parent will be excluded from the scheme.

Chancellor George Osborne said the scheme would give working parents "more choice and better access to the quality, affordable childcare".

"We want to make the new scheme work in the way that is best for parents, so today we are asking for their views," he added.

A 12-week consultation on the scheme will start later today.