With concerns over the affordability of childcare dominating headlines, a survey has revealed that many working parents are unaware of the financial benefits that could be available to them through their employer.

The survey, which was carried out to highlight issues facing working mothers and fathers when making childcare arrangements, found that 45 per cent of the 2,000 parents polled were completely unaware of childcare vouchers and how they could save them money. The survey also showed that 33 per cent of parents polled were not even offered childcare vouchers by their employer, if they were then 22 per cent said that they would definitely take up the scheme.

The start of the school year brings fresh anxieties to employees looking for affordable pre and post school care for their children. With just over half (55 per cent) of parents polled having children aged between four and eleven, the survey exposed a clear need for childcare options before and after normal school hours. Sixty-two per cent of respondents said that they had to make financial sacrifices to pay for childcare, whilst only 40 per cent actually used childcare vouchers to help with the mounting costs of child minders, breakfast clubs and after school programmes.

With recent reports showing that some women feel that it is more financially viable to stay at home and not work than to pay for childcare, there has never been a better time to promote the benefits of the vouchers to employees. The initiative, which is supported by the government, allows tax payers to pay for childcare from their pre-tax income, potentially saving families hundreds of pounds a year.

Tracy Wilson, Group Operations Manager for Co-operative Employee Benefits said: “The headlines focussing on the expense of childcare in the UK has highlighted a problem. There is simply not enough awareness of childcare vouchers and the benefits that they hold for both employer and employee.

“Offering childcare vouchers to your employees shows that you care. The scheme has been proven to enhance recruitment and retention within both the public and private sector. Introducing a voucher scheme shows employees that you are committed to family friendly working. The vouchers can make a significant difference to an employee’s family budget, especially at a time when finances are under strain.

“The scheme is designed to be financially beneficial to both employer and employee. As vouchers are exempt from National Insurance, the administration costs of running the programme are covered by the NI savings.