HOW care-4 childcare benefit scheme WORKS

care-4 was the first electronic childcare voucher scheme in the UK and helps working parents to save money on childcare costs; it enables employers to provide a valuable employee benefit that supports their working parents; and allows carers to receive prompt payment for the childcare provided.





Good news, if you already provide a scheme you can join care-4 at any time and move your existing participants seamlessly.

Once you have registered to offer childcare vouchers, any existing participant of your scheme can be moved to us and have the amount of pre-tax salary that they agreed to receive for childcare vouchers, paid into their care-4 account.

They can continue to save through the care-4 scheme until 1st September after their child's 15th birthday (or 16th birthday if they have a disability) or until they are no longer eligible.

Please Note: If you do not currently offer childcare vouchers to your employees, unfortunately, due to a change in Government legislation, care-4 is now closed to new joiners​.

A reminder of the savings available:- 
Up to £55 a week is exempt from income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NIC).

  • Employees can make a maximum monthly contribution of £243* to their care-4 account, saving up to £77.76 per month
  • You can offset care-4’s running costs – and often more – with your annual Employer NIC savings of up to £402* per participating employee

*The value of childcare costs available to employees free of tax and NI and free of employer NI depends on the rate at which they pay tax:

Basic rate taxpayers can contribute up to £243 per month
Higher rate taxpayers can contribute up to £124 per month
Additional rate taxpayers can contribute up to £110 per month


care-4 participants also have access to:

  • a confidential 24/7 childcare helpline
  • an emergency childcare website, enabling parents to find quality emergency childcare (some of which can be paid for using their care-4 account)
  • childcare provider discounts (subject to availability)

If you wish to transfer from an existing provider, we can move your employees seamlessly from their existing provider.  Not a problem.

If you do not offer childcare vouchers to your employees already, we are sorry to advise you that due to a change in Government legislation, care-4 is now closed to new joiners.


With care-4 you’ll have a market-leading benefit that’s up there with the biggest and the best, whatever the size of your organisation: simplicity, excellent service, and a positive user experience for your working parents.
If you have 1 to 1,000 employees, you can easily manage your childcare voucher scheme through our user-friendly care-4 admin site (priced at £49 per participating employee per year).  You’ll have everything you need to quickly set up and run your scheme.  

If you have over a thousand employees, we will provide you with a fully managed service, from set-up and registration processes to communications materials that support the transition of your scheme from your existing provider. If you offer the scheme outside a flex arrangement we can manage salary sacrifice documentation and any reporting that you need. We can also provide you with additional services, such as payment top-ups, and access to our discounted voucher shop.

Our fee structure for  large employers is based on the size of your organisation, the number of participants transitioning and the volume of funds handled, so please get in touch with us and we’d be very happy to calculate pricing for you, and provide any other information you may need.


We have a well-earned reputation for providing exceptional service to employers, employees and carers. We ’re founding members of the CVPA (Childcare Voucher Providers Association), and hold ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 Information Security accreditation.  

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Although it’s known as a childcare voucher scheme, care-4 is actually run through an easy to use website, so you can access your account on-line, any time and anywhere.


However, if you are already a care-4 participant, you can continue to save on your childcare costs until 1st September following your child's 15th birthday (or, 1st September following their 16th birthday if they have a disability).

In addition, if you already participate in a childcare voucher scheme offered by your employer through another provider, your employer can move its scheme and all the existing participants to care-4 at any time. 

  • You can pay in up to £243* to your care-4 account each month, saving up to £77.76* per month. 
  • You can access your care-4 account online at any time.
  • You can make payments to your nominated Registered or Approved carer via BACS

care-4 also provides you with access to:

  • a confidential 24/7 childcare helpline
  • an emergency childcare website, enabling you to find quality emergency childcare (some of which can be paid for using your care-4 account)
  • childcare provider discounts (subject to availability)

You can join the scheme if you are already participating in a childcare voucher scheme offered by your employer through another provider and your employer moves  their scheme to us.  If they haven’t, you may want to send them our details, or complete the CONTACT US form.

You can use your care-4 account to pay for Registered or Approved childcare for children up until the end of the August after their fifteenth birthday; or if they have a disability, up until the end of the August after their sixteenth birthday. Full details of the type of care which is registered or approved can be found in the Parent Frequently Asked Questions

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Other questions? Call the care-4 helpline on 0344 800 1444 or email


Confidential Childcare Helpline

Available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year to provide parental support on every aspect of your child’s wellbeing.

Access to Emergency Childcare

Free for the first 3 months of joining, then provided at a 20% discount on the standard £9.60 per month fee of £7.68 thereafter. You can book emergency childcare places for children for the next day or up to three weeks in advance. Registered childminders and nursery places can be booked through Emergency Childcare and paid by card.




If you’re a Registered or Approved childcare provider looking after a child or the children of a care-4 member, register with us so that you can be their nominated carer and receive payments direct from their care-4 account via BACS.

  • Secure and reliable electronic payments direct to your bank
  • No voucher collection or paperwork to process
  • Online statements available
  • No time delays


Once you’re registered with care-4, we’ll send you a secure log-in so that you can check the status of your payments and see any that are pending. If you give us your email address, we can also send you an email whenever a payment is made to you.

Payments authorised before 3pm on any working day will arrive in your nominated bank account two working days later via BACS.


You can be paid through the scheme if you are a registered or approved child carer.

A Registered childminder, nursery or childcare scheme is one that is registered:

  • in England, by Ofsted or the National Care Standards Commission
  • in Wales, by the National Assembly for Wales (through the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales)
  • in Scotland, with the Scottish Care Commission, and in Northern Ireland, by a Health and Social Services Trust.
Approved childcare includes:
  • Nannies or au pairs
  • Carers that are not legally required to register in order to care for children

  • You must ensure that your approval is renewed annually.
  • You cannot be paid through the scheme if you are the parent or legal guardian of the child for whom you are providing care.
  • You cannot be paid through the scheme for care provided if you are a relative of the child unless you are an eligible childcarer, you are not the parent or legal guardian, and you care for other children as well as those who are your relatives.

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As a result of the ongoing situation with regards to the current Covid-19 outbreak, we wanted to provide you with some further information to help you make an informed choice regarding your care-4 participation.
Should I continue paying into my account if I'm now spending less on childcare?
Whilst we acknowledge that the current situation is still uncertain, if you are likely to require childcare in the future, we recommend that you continue with your salary reductions (remembering that you can choose to reduce the value temporarily if required).
Can I reduce my monthly salary deduction temporarily?
Yes – this can be done either via your online care-4 account or, if your employer operates a Flexible Benefits scheme, through your Benefits Provider platform. The value can subsequently be increased as and when required.

If I leave the scheme can I re-join?
Yes, you can choose to temporarily leave the scheme (i.e. pause your salary reductions) but please be aware that in line with new Tax Free Childcare regulations, you must ensure that you restart reductions within 12 months - if you fail to do so then unfortunately you will be unable to re-join the scheme.
What are my options if I have been furloughed?
Whilst initially, guidance seemed to suggest that employees could continue to have reductions from gross salary whilst on furlough, a more recent update means that salary sacrifice cannot be taken from the pay an employee receives through the furlough grant. However, employers can choose to pay these benefits in addition to wages paid under the Job Retention Scheme.

Depending on the arrangements your employer has in place, this might mean that furloughed participants would need to pause their salary sacrifice arrangements until their normal contract is resumed. As Covid-19 is being classed as a life event it is entirely acceptable for individuals to make temporary changes to their salary sacrifice arrangements as a result.

If you have been furloughed you should discuss your options with your employer, as any payment of childcare vouchers during the period of Furlough would be dependent on their own specific arrangements.
Can I withdraw my funds?
In line with care-4 Terms & Conditions, you are unable to convert any excess balance in your account to cash by way of a refund. Instead, accrued funds will remain in your secure care-4 account for use in payment to eligible carers at a later date.
Are the funds in my account safe?
Yes. All funds received from our clients in respect of childcare payments are deposited and held in specifically designated bank accounts which are used solely for the purpose of handling care-4 client funds. The operational procedures we have in place illustrate that all such funds are client monies. 
Should you require further assistance please contact us either via email at: or by calling our helpline on 0344 800 1444.