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; enables employers to provide a valuable employee benefit that supports their working parents; and allows carers to receive prompt payment for the childcare provided.




Once you have registered to offer childcare vouchers as a participating employer, your employees can choose to have an agreed amount of their pre-tax salary paid into their care-4 account. They then use their online account to pay for qualifying childcare. 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 also provides participating parents with 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)


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, communicate 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 launch and regular promotion of your scheme. 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 and the volume of funds handled, so please to get in touch with us and we’d be very happy to calculate pricing for you, and provide any other information may you need.


If you wish to transfer from an existing provider, we can move your employees seamlessly, with or without the funds from their existing provider.  Not a problem.


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 online, any time and anywhere.

Once your employer is registered to provide childcare vouchers, you can arrange to have an agreed amount of your pre-tax salary paid into your own care-4 account. You then use this secure online account to pay for qualifying childcare, up to £55 a week of which is exempt from income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NIC).

  • 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)

To work out how much better off you will be with care-4, use our care-4 calculator.


To see how much you could save, just fill in your estimated annual earnings and monthly childcare costs and click on the calculate button.

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What are your monthly childcare costs?

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These calculations are for illustration only, based on:
  • The information you provide
  • Our understanding of employer supported childcare legislation
  • An assumption that your hourly pay after salary sacrifice remains above the National Minimum Wage (NMW) / National Living Wage (NLW)

Your actual savings will depend upon your individual tax and National Insurance circumstances:

  • If your pay is close to the NMW/NLW you may not be able to save through the scheme.
  • Your personal allowance will reduce by £1.00 for every £2.00 earned over £100,000.
  • Earnings over £150,000 are subject to the additional tax rate of 45%.

You may be eligible for other childcare options from the Government. Visit and use their calculator to work out the best option for you. Remember to calculate the projected costs over the lifetime of your childcare needs and bear in mind that savings will vary depending on the age of your child.

REMEMBER: The savings are per employee and so if you and your partner are both eligible to join care-4, you should both sign up!

*Depending on the rate at which you pay income 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


You can join the scheme if you are an employed UK tax payer, who is a parent or legal guardian of a child, and your employer has registered with 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: 0344 800 1444 (Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm).


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 for through your care-4 account or 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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