Childcare vouchers firm Busy Bees is investing £3 million in new technology after seeing rising demand from working parents coming under cost pressure.

The Lichfield company, which employs 250 staff, is spending the money on a new operating system, telephones and a customer relationship management system.

Parents of nursery children are spending an average of £146 a week in the West Midlands, according to new research, and the cost of childcare is rising faster than pay increases in the region.

Busy Bees manages childcare voucher schemes, which allow you to pay for childcare from your pre-tax salary, for more than 100,000 working parents.

Managing director Simon Moore, said: “Money is harder to come by. People are looking to change their energy provider to save money – why should childcare be different?

“The credit crunch is driving employees to see how they can get more out of their pay packet so for people with children it is an obvious route.”

He added: “We are trying to make things easier and enhance our service provision. It is very important in this day and age to make the maximum advantage from childcare vouchers because there is something in it for both the employer and employee.”

Busy Bees, which was bought by share registration firm Computershare in September, said the new technology would help it to offer parents more choice, make operations smoother and improve its green credentials.

Mr Moore said investing in modern phones, record-keeping and computer systems would also help underpin growth plans.

He said childcare vouchers were an employee benefit that could help working parents save up to £1,196 a year.

According to latest research from the Daycare Trust, the yearly cost of a typical nursery place for a child under two is £7,592 in the West Midlands.

Researchers for its 2009 Childcare Costs Survey said the £146 a week cost was up ten per cent on last year while the average weekly wage in the region rose only 4.4 per cent over the same period, to £450.

The childcare charity is calling on the government to increase help with childcare costs through tax credits. The tax exempt vouchers, launched in 1999, can be used to pay for nurseries, nannies, childminders, au pairs, out-of-school clubs and holiday schemes.

Busy Bees, which is based on Fradley Park, signed up its 100,000th working parent to its money-saving scheme in February after its most successful five consecutive months on record.

Sales and marketing director Iain Beadle said: “As parents will know, the cost of childcare is continuing to rise and childcare vouchers provide a logical and easy way to save money.

“Busy Bees Childcare Vouchers continue to plan for growth throughout 2009 and we look forward to signing up our 200,000th parent in our next major milestone.”