PARENTS are losing thousands of pounds due to expiring childcare vouchers – but it's easy to reclaim the cash.
We explain how to after MoneySavingExpert staff Jenny Keefe, a mum-of-two, recouped a whopping £2,600 in expired vouchers.
Childcare vouchers are available to parents from employers and allow you to pay for the vouchers from your pre-tax income.
The scheme closed to new applicants in October 2018, and was instead replaced by tax-free childcare, which offers up to £2,000 a year in help per child.
Yet existing childcare voucher users can continue to use the scheme, and it saves them hundreds of pounds a year.
But vouchers issued by one of the major providers, Sodexo, automatically expire after 30 months, reports MoneySavingExpert.
Parents aren't separately notified about the vouchers expiring either, so you may not notice unless you log into your online account.
What are childcare vouchers?
CHILDCARE vouchers are offered to parents through their employers, allowing them to pay for childcare costs via salary sacrifice.
This means that you are paying for childcare out of your pre-tax and national insurance income.
For example, a basic-rate taxpayer can swap £1,000 of their salary, which after tax and national insurance is around £700 in your pay packet, for £1,000 in childcare vouchers.
This means you pocket an extra £300 for every £1,000 used towards childcare.
The scheme closed to new applicants on October 5, 2018, and was replaced by tax-free childcare.
But existing users can continue to use the childcare voucher scheme.
Paper vouchers issued by Computershare also expire after 12 months, though there's no expiry on its electronic vouchers.
Features writer Jenny Keefe, who gets her vouchers from Sodexo, told MoneySavingExpert she was "scared" after realising vouchers worth several thousand pounds had expired before she got a chance to use them.
Jenny, who has two children aged three and six, said: "I’d amassed quite a lot of vouchers, mainly because I didn’t need to use childcare while I was on maternity leave.
"However, when I logged on again, I noticed that a huge chunk was missing. It turns out £2,652 had expired."
Jenny managed to get the credit back on her account after a phone call and email to Sodexo, but said she was surprised that thousands could be wiped off her balance without a notification.
Another Sodexo customer, Emma Forster, told the consumer site that £180 worth of her vouchers expired last August.
She also contacted Sodexo, which first said it'd reissue the vouchers within 10 working days but then did so the same day as she needed them earlier.
How to check if you've lost expired vouchers and reclaim the cash
If you're worried about your childcare vouchers expiring, you'll need to check with the provider that issues them directly for help.
Below we've rounded up the policies of the UK's largest providers.
Sodexo told MoneySavingExpert its vouchers expire after 30 months due to an accounting mechanism, but didn't confirm how many vouchers have expired.
You won't get a separate notification when vouchers expire, so if you've been signed up to Sodexo vouchers for more than 30 months and think you may have had some expire, you'll need to log into your account to check.
Sodexo says you'll be able to see expired vouchers on your account – but if you can't and think you've lost out, it's still worth calling to check.
Jenny said she wasn't immediately able to spot that vouchers had expired when she first checked her account.
To get the expired vouchers added back to your account, Sodexo said you need to give it a call on 0800 328 7411.
The Sun has asked Sodex if there's a time limit to reclaim expired vouchers, so we'll update this article once we hear back.
Computershare said its electronic vouchers don't expire, but its paper vouchers expire after 12 months.
To check if your vouchers have expired, simply check the expiry date printed on them.
You can replace an expired paper voucher or turn it into an electronic voucher by calling Computershare on 0370 702 0003.
Care-4, Edenred, Employers for Childcare, Gemelli Employee Benefits, Kiddi Vouchers
Care-4, Edenred, Gemelli Employee Benefits and Kiddi Vouchers all told The Sun their vouchers don't have an expiry date, while Employers for Childcare said the same to MoneySavingExpert.
We've also asked Fair Care, TEDS Group and Fideliti for the policies, but we haven't yet had a response so we'll update this article if we do.
From tax-free childcare to free nursery hours – we've rounded-up the childcare help worth £5,000-plus parents may be missing out on.
Meanwhile, over a million families are missing out on £2,000 a year because they aren't claiming tax-free childcare.
Plus, these are the ways to cut the cost of childcare from discounts to community nurseries.
Source: Read Full Article