Tell us what you think about childcare costs?(118 Posts)
Save the Children and Daycare Trust are launching a huge consultation of parents across Britain, focusing on the challenges of finding affordable childcare in this country.
According to the latest OECD research, British childcare costs are amongst the highest in the world - only Switzerland and the US outrank us. It costs an average of £177 per week for a full time nursery position for a child under two in Britain - 28% of the average net-income for a two-earner household, and more than double the OECD average of 13%.
The two charities want to find out what impact, if any, the rising cost of childcare is having on families - they're particularly concerned that less wealthy families might find themselves priced out of work.
So, whether it be cutting back on household essentials, or finding it harder to find or keep a job, please do share your experiences with childcare costs here, and we'll pass them on to Save The Children and Daycare Trust. You can also take their online survey here.
Will fill in the survey, but wanted to say what a Godsend it was when DD1 turned three and qualified for 15 free hours childcare - esp as she is an autumn baby so will be going to school later.
The free funding has made a real difference, especially as DD2 will be going to nursery later this year as well when I go back to work part-time. If we didn't get the funding, it wouldn't make immediate financial sense for me to go back to work - but would then have had an effect on pensions, experience and later career progression for me.
it's so frustrating that maternity leave and pay is so poor in this country that women and men are financially forced back into work only to be mostly working to pay childcare costs....
i'm not sure why the 15 free hours aren't applicable earlier if the government want everyone working so soon after having a child, or are only the rich to be encouraged to have children?
mixed messages from the government.
Well after finding myself with 2 children in nursery costing almost £2k per month, a stressful job and demanding boss, a husband having to travel extensively for work I decided it wasn't worth the bother and stopped working.
I took a career break after Dd was born as I would not have qualified for anything extra due to 'earning too much' but would have been paying out my entire take home pay on childcare (older Ds of 8years at the time too). I am still struggling with the idea of returning to work (possibly in January) as I work shifts and am not local, so some of my days out of the front door at work stretch out over 16 hours.
It has been and continues to be, the worst mess financially that I've ever found myself in (on my own) and the thought that it wont improve when I'm back earning a £30k salary and could possibly be worse scares me a lot.
The government are not helpful.
all we need is a tax break. they either want women/both parents working or not, i wish they would make up their mind and then support accordingly.
I'm actually most worried about childcare arrangments and cost when both DDs are at school. At the moment it's expensive but fits in with the working day. Our local schools don't have breakfast/after-school clubs that I'm aware of, and trying to work around the school day isn't going to straightforward, especially once they're at different schools. Am trying not to think about it too much yet TBH
I'm lucky that I have a fairly good job, work locally and am able to even consider 'downsizing'. Currently I do 4 days a week. I could afford to earn a lot less and would love to do fewer hours in a 'less involved' job which fits in more with family life but:
- There are no jobs doing what I do which are 2 days a week, so I have to change to something slightly different
- Changing to something slightly different is very difficult at the moment as there are 100 people better qualified for the job ahead of you
- On the rare occasion that a well paid nice sounding part time job comes up there are 500 parents, students and semi-retired people applying
- Lower paid part time jobs would not cover the child care
- Lower paid part time jobs are not necessarily less stressful than mine.
I'm very very lucky to work school hours (and not in a school!) - there is no way on earth that the kind of jobs & hours I did pre-children would be feasible once childcare for 2 kids is taken into consideration. I dont think I really thought about this when I had first child; I just thought that somehow, childcare would be fine, as everyone else seems to do it....
it does annoy me that these surveys do seem to concentrate on younger kids, our local council have actually cut nearly all of our subsidised schemes for 5-12 year olds. so they either have to cram into large schemes that cater for 50+ children or pay £££, crazy.
I agree that the 15 hours funding makes a lot of difference. I delayed having dd3 until we wouldn't need to pay for two in childcare and the 9 months paid leave was coming in - her due date was 13/04/07!
I think that parents do have to accept that under the current funding arrangements and very high costs it is possible for one partner to be working for no immediate financial gain at all. That's pretty depressing but there will be payback further down the line because by staying in work you improve your longterm earning potential and keep something of a career track going.
If you are in a position to plan your children you do need to remember that the earnings of one of you are going to be decimated by childcare and/ore part time hours. I've seen a lot of very distressing posts from people who have had planned children and then realised that making work and child 'work' is going to be very hard. That is a predictable situation - just wish more people would predict it!
I cannot wait until August when we will qualify for the 15 hours free childcare. Our DS is in nursery for 16 hours a week as I work 20 hours a week (grandparents help on the 5th day of the week).
I am currently working for approx 50 pounds a week once the childcare has been paid from my wages which doesn't seem worth it but we don't qualify for any help other than child benefit etc so we need that extra money I bring home. The trouble for us is that I was told I had to work 5 mornings a week rather than 2 1/2 days so I pay more in childcare for the same hours of work as I pay session rates as opposed to the slightly cheaper day rate.
Our childcare is by a provider onsite where we both work but we pay the full rate as there is no staff discount and as I am also now term time (to help prevent a redundancy) I am expected to pay half the daily rate each day my DS is not in to reserve his place - I understand why, the nursery is a business after all but I took a term time contract to help out the business and there is no help in return.
The survey wasnt really good I dont think.
I ticked that I had no problems finding childcare - which meant they didnt want to know about my childcare costs or a whole host of other questions, which are surely relevant? I am lucky there are childcare places at the moment round here - doesnt mean I dont struggle to pay for it!
also, the question on impact of cutting back of tax credits should have had an "other" option. THat impact here means we are £10 worse off a week, which means cutting back on other items. But there wasnt the option to say that.
I agree smokin - that was v odd. I have always found childcare - doesn't mean that I haven't made work decisions because of it too.
I would argue that childcare costs in the UK are higher than the US when you count it on an hourly basis. DH was due to be relocated in Feb. When looking at daycare it works out to be around GBP1000 a month per child from 8am-6pm in Manchester. Here in the US (we live 30min from Manhattan) the daycare is $1500 for a child under 18 months (it drops to $1200 a month for 18mth-3yrs) from 7am-7pm plus once a month they provide care until 11pm so parents can have a date night or, in our case, work late. If you have two children in care they give you a 10% discount off the more expensive child and this increases to 20% for twins or if you have three going through at the same time.
In addition, the tax system here is much fairer in my opinion. As a married couple we are taxed on our income as a couple. We then get tax credits and deductions for children and daycare (up to $6000 per year).
In the UK my salary as an accountant (approx GBP25k per year is what recuiters quoted which is less than half of what I make here in the US) would not be enough to support two children in daycare at the same time. My DH earns more than I but it does not make sense for him to subsidize me working. Working should pay and I think given the taxes paid by UK residents daycare should be provided at no cost to those who need it due to working. An alternative to state provided daycare would be for daycare costs to come out of salary on a pretax basis.
In our case the UK ended up losing out on a nice middle class family who are would be tax paying, law abiding citizens. If it were men having babies I am sure there would be a heck of a lot more tax breaks in place.
My DH died when DS was 7 months old, so I am a sole parent. Only because of tax credits and bereavement benefit (lovely name, isn't it?!) have I been able to return to work. However, now that they are reducing, I don't think I will be able to afford the childcare I need for DS. I am counting down the days until he turns 3 (lower fees at nursery) and then once he starts to receive the 15 funded hours. Until that point, I am tightening my belt, as there is little else I can do if I want to be able to afford my mortgage.
It would be nice if there was an equivalent of the childcare voucher scheme for those of us that are self-employed. At present we don't qualify and this seems a little unfair.
It was main reason behind the 4 year gap between DS1 and DS2.
Couldn't have afforded fulltime childcare for both at once.
Really surprised that it is only US and Switzerland higher than UK for childcare. I pay 1300 Euros a month in Holland for 4 days a week in a normal creche- not some one-to-one Norland nanny- so considerably more than that 177 GBP. I make that about 265 GBP a week... for 4 days a week...
Agree with Smokin about odd questioning.
We're expecting twins, which will have a huge impact on our family finances.
I feel like I have to go back to work to keep hold of a job I enjoy, but realistically I will be left with hardly anything once the childcare is paid.
We already have DS1 and 2, so before and after school club for them, plus holiday cover, plus childcare for the twins is a terrifying thing.
My view is that long term ,this way I will have a semblance of a career to resurrect once all the kids are in full time school, and we just have to get our heads down and muddle through the 'childcare years'.
I'm also conscious that due to the twins we will have to move house or significantly extend the one we have now, so my salary will be included in income multiples needed to get the enormous mortgage we'll need.
Extra help for those with multiples would be welcome - no-one plans for twins, lets face it, and the extra baby causes a huge financial strain.
The problem as I see it is that is expensive to provide a high quality service, so if you don't want your children looked after by unqualified teenagers you need to pay more.
This is where the 'free' places are an issue, because the government doesn't fund the TRUE cost of good childcare. E.g. they offer around £3 per hour. In a good setting, the staff and resources will cost more than this.
Therefore, either the good settings with highly qualified and motivated staff make a loss on the funded places, or they drop their standards.
Sad really, as the point of funding was supposed to be raising quality and in many cases it has done the exact opposite.
i made that point on the survey jade - i don't want the childcare to be cheaper, the staff couldn't be paid less after all..
but it needs to be made cheaper at the point of use - eg paid out of pre-tax income, that seems the only fair way.
i wish the govt would decide if their vision is for both parents to be in work or not. the messages are so contradictory. if as a society/economy it is believed in the best interests for all that both parents work then structures need to be put in place to support this. At the moment it is just left to working parents, who by the way are also probably having to care for elderly parents too.... and if not, soon will be. sigh.
I am desperate to work. I hate being at home with the children.
Because we would receive only a token amount of assistance with childcare costs, we would be significantly worse off if I got a job. We can't afford for me to work.
Many funded settings are facing financial difficulty, they can only afford minimum wage as it is and the bills are going up so many are having to look at withdrawing from the scheme. How the government is proposing to extended it to 2 year-olds I don't know as the ratio of staff needed makes that impossible at current funding levels.
If the 15 hours goes the 'entitled but good luck finding some' way of NHS dentists then it is going to be much harder for working families.
We have 2 DDs, for a long time the childcare cost more than our mortgage (OK so mortgage wasn;t horrendously high, but even so)
Part of the reason why we haven;t gone for number 3 is we just can;t afford it.
Childcare costs are the main reason we are only thinking of a second dc. Ds is in 3 days a week at £475 pm. Just cannot afford 2 lots of nursery fees, and to lose my wage is not an option.
Couldn't they make childcare tax deductible or something useful?
Nursery here for one child under 2 is about £350 a week
Nanny is about £700 a week
I am home as my wage wouldn't even cover the childcare costs
I pay almost a £1000 per month for 4 days, thankfully the 3 year old free entitlement has just kicked in and will bring this down. I live just outside of zone 6 and my travel card is £16 per day, it costs me £73 per day to go to work on just childcare and travel which is, imo, outrageous.
I think the cost of good quality childcare is something that needs addressing urgently by the government, I would pretty much vote for any party that introduced a tax deduction for EVERYONE using childcare.
'they either want women/both parents working or not'
It shouldn't be up to them.
I am choosing to stay at home with DD until she is at least 3. I am able to do this as I saved for the past 4 years - about 1/3rd of my salary each month. We do not have holidays or luxuries. I would only consider working and paying for childcare if it was an absolute financial necessity, ie, we could not cover the mortgage and bills without it. I am downsizing to be with my child - I believe it's the best option for me.
I am seriously considering only having 1 child as with 2 we would need a bigger home and my lack of an income may limit this from the mortgage multiple perspective. Our other option is to move to a much cheaper area - probably not within 200 miles! Although I love where we are now - a difficult choice.
We too have two children in full-time childcare and we have had to do some careful balancing of the finances to be able to afford it. We are always 'looking ahead' to when they are both in school.
It would be useful for the 15 funded hours to apply much earlier - especially if the government want parents back in work quickly. The horrendously low maternity pay is a huge factor too, and at the time, even if the deal had been that you could split it between both parents, there was no way we could have afforded for DP to take time out, no matter how much he would have liked to.
One of my biggest issues - which I recognise as being unreasonable, is the amount of foreign holidays and home improvements my (wonderful) CM has managed since we have been paying a huge chunk of our take home money to her each month. Still, my children love going to her and she is excellent, but our holiday this year was a sun voucher holiday on a caravan park!
I don't have any firm or current evidence to support this, but anecdotally, colleagues from the rest of Europe and from the US have always been shocked and appalled at the cost of childcare in the UK.
For pre-schoolers, for each one, our childcare bill (for one child) equalled or exceeded the sum of all our other bills including mortgage.
Fortunately we both have well paid jobs, otherwise DH would have been subsidising my working, which would have been ludicrous. There have been times when (although I pay nice lots of tax) it was distinctly questionable whether it was worthwhile my working but for the most part it has just meant that we no longer have anything which could be described as 'disposable' income.
as a single parent with 2 dc at school I am terrified about how I'm going to cope with money over the next 12 months. My ex husband has always been emplyed by the same employer and we are going through CSA (been through court for 3 years but he always gets away with it by not turning up or not having the right paperwork) yet I get minimal maintenance on a sporadic basis. I am going back to uni in Aug to finally qualify as a teacher after 8 years as a HLTA in England (am now in Scotland) but the max student loan is £5k and childacre is £5, 540!! I qualify for a £1200 bursary and MAY, yes may qualify for £1000 discretionary help towards childcare, but have to realise lots of people apply!! So we shall eat dust! Nobody cares and nobody wants to help. I had to move 400 miles home after my divorce as I couldn't afford to live down south but there are no jobs here and I want to train to do what I'm good at but everything just seems so impossible. But I'll do it - I'll have to work p/t as well (more childcare!) to help but we'll get there. A wee bit of help from the government wouldn't go amiss - alternative is sitting back on my arse and claiming benefits! Think 9 months of childcare (length of course) would make a world of difference!!!
Not everyone has a career, most work in 'dead end jobs'. In this case it does not make sense to spend all that you earn on childcare costs.
You need to find a way to work around your partner so childcare can be shared and even get relatives involved.
The best way is to work evenings or weekends to avoid costs, then at least you get to keep your money.
Scandinavian countries have the best deal for parents and children.
Dreadful to wish your childs babyhood away just so we get 'help' with childcare for a few hours a week .
I actually couldn't get a place for Dd in pre school because so many people didn't move their children into nursery school at age 3. It should be compulsory so that the next year group down has the opportunity to take advantage of the 15 hours a week (IMO), therefore allowing a few working hours to take place.
Not everyone has a partner or family that can help out Ripeberry. I'm a single parent to two Dc's and my Mum of nearly 70 lives 8 miles away and doesn't drive, brother 4 miles away with a life of his own...so what would you suggest? If only life were that straight forward.
It's not just a question of childcare costs, although as shown here, they are simply unafforable for some.
Other things can be done to help families, eg lengthening the school day and lowering the age at which schools accept children in their (free) nurseries. Also more flexible working hours can be very beneficial to both employers and employees.
Also childcare workers are notoriously poorly paid, although it is such an important job.
Where is the option for childcare being more expensive than your mortgage? Ours costs twice our mortgage! Also the q about being better off working is phrased as if for a single parent, I think, or as if only one parent is responsible for all childcare costs.
Agree they need to change that question - our childcare bill used to be more than mortgage plus ALL other bills. It only isn't now because we have a bigger mortgage.
Being able to buy childcare vouchers for the full cost of childcare rather than the £243 a month would be a great help. Also making these available to everyone, not just those whose employer decides to allow the scheme would help.
'Scandinavian countries have the best deal for parents and children.'
I have read many bad things about it. It's not all it is cracked up to be in my opinion.
If you have more than one child to pay for, its not worth most going back to work. If you earn too much you get no help either!
Our local nursery is £52 a day!
My wife and I are registered childminders and I thought I'd share what childcare costs look like 'from the other side of the fence'
We are each allowed a maximum of 3 children under 5 (not a bad thing as you all know that you have your hands full with 3). We charge £5 per hour for full time children. Tax allowances are complicated but not too dissimilar to the old system where you deducted 2/3rds of your income for costs.
We can therefore 'take home' £5 per hour, assume a 35 hour week and 52 weeks and we could earn the princely sum of £9100 per annum.
Our contract means we are paid for bank holidays and if the child doesn't come for any reason but we don't get paid when we're unable to work or on holiday.
We are allowed another 3 children aged between 5 and 8 so during the holidays it is possible to have more children but it's almost impossible to fill all the available spaces all the time.
We run 2 7-seater people carriers to accomodate the children.
During the term time we try to take the children to toddler groups most mornings and during the holidays we go further afield. We have group membership for some local attractions and either the National Trust or English Heritage (alternate years).
We enjoy our 'work' but earn every penny
Don;t get me wrong Giles, I don't begrudge a penny I pay our childminder (or the afterschool club) if it weren't for them I wouldn;t be able to work. I just wish that childcare was more heavily subsidised by the government, afterall, if I don;t work, I don;t pay taxes.
BTW, I don;t know how childcare workers are able to afford to do their job as I feel they're underpaid!!!!!
i think it is v important that we don't get "cheaper" childcare as it couldn't be any cheaper really. Those working in the sector deserve higher pay. But having to pay out of net income is the real problem.
#11 doesn't consider people who have no mortgage or rent. Childcare is our largest outgoing by a LONG way.
Parents who work throughout their lives, minus maternity/paternity leave, must surely pay more in tax overall than those who take longer career breaks to raise families. If that is the case it should follow that it would be worthwhile to society to support, in the short term, working families with their childcare (and other child related costs) for the longer term benefit of their (possibly exponantially increasing, depending on career progression) tax contributions. It makes sense IMO to provide the 15 hrs free from whatever age a child is when the parents have completed the statutory maternity rights (6 months in some cases, 1 year in others). They could tie in some requirements such as the amount of hours one would have to work (such as for tax credits) and perhaps proof from employers that one are working those hours. It should, however, be a benefit given to working households, not a universal benefit. 15 hrs from 3 years old could remain a universal benefit. I believe that would give more families real choices with regards to their work/non-work decisions.
I also think it is ludicrous that the childcare vouchers aren't a universal scheme but is left up to employers. That means those working for companies outside the scheme and self-employed individuals are losing out which is completely unfair. The whole cost of childcare should also be possible to take out in vouchers (like someone else said).
Scandinavian countries, as has been mentioned here, aren't without problems with regards to childcare etc but at least they recognise that families aren't just a burden on society (society having to pay for schools, health care etc) but will in turn become tax payers and in effect pay for the State Pension of our generation. This means Scandinavian countries actually vaule the family much more than here. Also those who choose to stay at home for the firs two years of their childs life get a contribution so its not just working families that are recognised (in case someone thought that).
I would welcome, like another poster here said, a clearer message from the government on this issue and then too see some strong policies to back their views up.
Definitely agree that child care should be seen as an essential work related expense and therefore be tax deductible like a company car etc.
Also agree with the comment earlier that it is actually harder logistically (if not financially) to work when your children are school age than when they can be looked after at nursery. My 3 dcs are in school but with no or limited before/after school care this means one of us has to be SAHP as otherwise there would be no one to take the children to school or pick them up in the afternoon. We used to live in France where (despite significant other educational failings) the pretty much every school from Primary upwards has a before and after school "garderie" where, in my dc's school, you could drop your child off at 7.30am and pick them up at 6.30pm FOR FREE! We had no need to use this service but it's a Godsend for the working parents. The tax system is also a lot fairer for families as the Government promote larger families as these children will be the population paying for their pensions!
Why isn't all childcare tax-deductible? It is not a luxury but a necessity allowing parents to work. I am self employed and do my own tax return every year. I find it really odd when I come to the column for my annual earnings, there isn't another one to deduct the annual cost of childcare. Childcare is not a frippery or indulgence; the idea any job can be done with a toddler running round your feet is a fantasy. Something has to be done to make childcare costs more realistic. Or you will end up with a continuation of the gender divide: women (usually) forced to give up work as it makes no financial sense, then returning to jobs Market when children are at school doing something that pays badly as they've spent so long out of the jobs Market. Childcare really is one of the great undiscussed problems in our society.
Don;t know why but I thought I might get flamed for suggesting that childcare is more subsidised. Should have known better really!!!!
I agree that the situation where childcare vouchers aren't available to the self-employed, or automatically available to employed people if their company doesn't want to join the scheme, makes it less helpful to working parents than it could be.
Local Authorities are also free to choose how they administer the 15hrs pw funded nursery which leads to differences between locations. In my LA they have heavily reduced the number of funded places available with private providers as they say there is space in council nurseries - but they don't open 8-6 so aren't any use to most working parents.
It's our biggest single cost, including mortgage. I agree with previous posters - the cost of care couldn't be cheaper, but it would be good to see a higher amount payable via childcare vouchers. The government seem to be planning to scrap it altogether eventually though. As childcare costs have gone up every year and the amount payable through vouchers has stayed the same, the scheme is already worth less year on year.
Yes, the situation is insane. I would dearly love to go back to work (if there was any) but can't really see how it is affordable for me. With two kids, one under two I am looking at £60 per day minimum. This together with the quite substantial drop in wages (recruitment agent thinks I am now worth 4 -5k less than I was thanks to recession) means that it just doesn't add up.
I think Mr Cameron and his cronies really don't want women in the workforce, best we just stay in the kitchen eh? After all people like me don't show up on the unemployment statistics do we so why would they bother helping us back into work.
We have 4 children and no family around to help, so it is a miracle that I still manage to work 3 days a week. Childcare costs are massive and childcare vouchers plus working from home together have meant it is just about doable.
I think workplace creches and working from home would help a lot of people. I also think childcare vouchers should be increased - I still don't understand why of all things they are taking a hit - surely they can't be such a burden on the state? It does feel like a kick below the belt for working parents.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Stringerbell - "We don't have to worry about childcare in school hols as OH is a teacher and can't imagine how others cope with this."
Oh God yes. Holidays. Holidays are a nightmare. Even with my DC in holiday clubs whenever available and with jobs which are basically very flexible, I breathe a sigh of relief at having survived each holiday (by the skin of our teeth and with the help of both sets of GPs). That in turn makes me really sad - my DCs school holidays should be relaxed time for them and sometimes it just isn't - holiday club isn't nearly as much fun when you know you have to go, and will be the first there and the last to leave, because Mummy and Daddy have to work, and commute to that work.
I am not sure what the answer there is, BTW - just venting - but it would certainly make all the difference in the world if childcare were tax deductible (or, in other words, if childcare vouchers were not limited to £243/month each and were not in danger of extinction)
I totally agree with Guildenstern I would love to go back to work, but with having a 5 year old and a 1 year old and no family to help look after them, me and my husband have no choice but to bring in only the one wage, we would be worse off me going back to work!
It is amazing though how many people dont understand this and just think you are being lazy and dont want to work!
I live in Switzerland and can honestly say that the childcare costs are astronomical. I currently pay 1300 pounds a month for 4 days of childcare for my son. Our twins are due in August and doing the maths on childcare makes me ill.
What I have encountered is covert discrimination when it comes to working mothers. When children go to school they are expected to go home for lunch, and they have wed afternoons off. How do you explain that to your employer?! Questions are often asked about whether it a mother can actually do her job with children - the same would never be asked of a father. I am no longer on Maslow's hierarchy of self fulfillment and ego - rather Im on the lowest level of providing food and shelter, and just barely. We're actually considering moving to another country where childcare is more affordable and society more appreciative of a woman's contribution in the workplace.
This discussion really hits home at society and what how policy makers want to shape the future. The developed world faces a pensions deficit, yet people are thinking twice about having children because of the current cost. I personally think it is important that children grow up with a working mother as a model, however difficult it is, as when they hit the workplace, they accept women as equals.
I don't know what the financial contribution of working mothers is to the economy, but Im sure it is significant enough for governments to ensure that those who want to work and contribute can do so, without parents worrying about whether they can afford to even work. After all, putting children through childcare is a worrying enough endeavour.
Or do our policy makers want to go back 50 years (as in Switzerland!!) and ensure that mothers have little choice - hmmm how do I decide between working and being poor, and not working and being poor - but to stay at home and perpetuate last century stereotypes.
SwellyBelly I hear you on the covert discrimination. I find that the US policy towards working mothers actually helps reduce discrimination in the workplace. Yes you don't get much time off but the reality is that most employers know they can attract and keep talented women as employees by offering more.
The system here also supports families who decide to have a parent stay home with the children as well as those who decide to have two working parents. You are taxed on your family income not as an individual and then they provide a tax break for those with daycare expenses.
I gave up my career; the stress when the child is ill and there is just no back-up was just horrible. We had an au pair as well as full-time nursery places, precisely for that reason. And then she got ill. You end up spending a fortune (I was effectively breaking even on salary/childcare costs and working for the pension) but still get perceived at work as uncommitted and lightweight, and still struggle to work the extra hours demanded by most jobs. DH actually took off far more time than I did to care for sick children but men don't seem to get attacked for it in the same way .
With a third child I would have been making a massive loss and having even more stress and the game just wasn't worth the candle.
And that was with a reasonably well-paid professional job.
I actually think that this government doesn't want women to work. By cutting childcare assistance they cut their welfare bill; by keeping women at home the unemployment figures go down.
We have two ds's at school now, and I work 3 days a week. When they were younger, childcare took up a big slice of our income. I think parents should be able to claim tax relief on childcare - after all, its is direct expense due to working. If you work, you need it!
Having said that, I think things are generally improving. When I talk to older colleagues whose children are grown up, and hear about only 3 months paid maternity leave, and no free 15 hours childcare, I realise things have got better.
I do think childcare costs are a big factor in deciding family size though. Many people might consider having 3 or even 4 children, but when you work, this becomes nearly impossible.
I can't go to work because
1. We can't afford childcare
2. It would cost me more money to work because of childcare
It's ruining my life and I am desperately struggling with it, it seems there is no way out. Just a case of hanging on by the skin of the skin of my teeth until January, when DS1 gets his free place.
Only 2 years until number 2 follows him (I think I might be committed if I'm still at home with them by then)
Childcare costs are high in the UK for two reasons: firstly, the level of state subsidy is low compared with other developed countries; secondly, the quality of provision that society (parents) expect is exceptionally high compared with other countries.
For childcare costs in the UK to come down to internationally comparable levels, it will require both state subsidy and a significant lowering of parental expectations of care.
I don;t think we have particular high expectations of childcare at all. I think that what we have is great, it just costs too much
Travel about a bit and take a look at childcare in other countries (in particular the adult:child ratios, the level of routine and institutionalisation) and think again!
Yeah, thats not really an optin I'm afraid Bonsoir - what with working and everything, I'll have to rely on you to tell me about my high expectations!
Haven't read the whole thread but one thing to consider is that we might not necessarily be comparing apples to apples. e.g. in Spain (where I used to live) full time nursery is a lot cheaper than in the UK BUT full time is the norm, and you're expected to pay for it - it's very hard to find a nursery, even for quite young babies, that will let you take your children for mornings only, or 3 days a week only - you have to pay full time whether you go or not. e.g. see blog here about nurseries/childcare in Barcelona.
Also the 15 hrs a week free once they're free here is pretty good. I think some of the problems are partly caused by the fact that we're having children later (lots of good reasons for that), so often have 2 under 3 in expensive childcare at the same time.
And after all, why should the taxpayer fund parents particularly? Surely our problem to work out how to look after our children? I personally think that more parents - i.e. fathers too - working flexibly is the best answer - to gender equality and childcare issues.
It is bloody expensive and very difficult though.
(Once they're THREE. Not free. Wishful thinking )
One reason why the tax payer shoudl fund childcare for working parents is that the working parent then pays tax on their earnings. If people don;t have many children due to childcare costs, who are going to be the tax payers in 30/40 years time when we've stopped working?
yes, but working non-parents also pay tax. And I don't think a shrinking global population is a big worry.
Yes but who is going to be paying the tax for the upkeep of the country when non-parents retire?
Also what Bonsoir says is true - at least for Spain - adult:child ratio is lower there, and there is not much expectation of nursery staff playing with or spending much one-on-one time with your child(ren).
newname - there are hundreds of thousands of people who want to work in the UK and pay tax here and, unless this government really shafts the economy in a truly spectacular fashion, I think that will continue. Even if every person in the UK refused to have another child, we'd be able to find plenty of people to come in and support us in our old age, to be honest.
It was our biggest single cost after the mortgage. I went back to work half time earning 13k, my childcare costs were 5k so about 50% of my take home pay. It was a huge chunk. It really made me think very hard about having a second child. I enjoy my job and I feel I make a contribution to society, but I can understand why women don't go back to work when there is so little financial reward.
I felt v. lucky having childcare vouchers, and they were a godsend - but they didn't cover it all, so the rest of the money I handed over to my childminder, I'd been taxed on, and then she was paying tax on - mad. My partner's work don't do childcare vouchers so we only had one lot. The amount you can get in cvs also didn't change - over the years as my childminders fees went up obviously.
So basically - tax-free childcare vouchers offered automatically by every employer - that cover up to a reasonable percentage of your earnings - say 50%, so go up as earnings go up. Let them not affect your pension - it is only for a few short years.
15 "free" hours knocks about £1,800 off the £12,000 annual cost of full time nursery care in my area (West London)
As I work, I need "wraparound" care for DS. None of the pre-schools near me offer this, they offer only a 2.5 hr morning session or 2.5 hour afternoon session with no option to "buy" extra hours.
So DS has had to stay in the private nursery he has been in since he was 12 months old. All the nurserys round here receive a termly payment from the ed. authority (around £600ish per term) which they then "knock off" people's bills.
So my DS does not get 15 free nursery hours per week, he gets a cash payment which equates to far less than 15 hours per week as the nursery fees are so much more than the amount given by the ed. authority. When I questioned the nursery owner about this, she said that nurserys in this area could not survive on the amount paid by the ed authority.
What would really help me is pre-schools that give you the option of topping up your free hours to full days.
Oh and the impact of childcare costs is that I have had to wait till DS1 is due to go to school to TTC DC2 as I could not have afforded to have 2 kids in nursery at the same time (£2,200 per month for 2 kids and I "only" take home £2,000 per month)
I was priced out of thw workplace. After paying for nursery fees (1 child) and petrol I would have been left with less than £50 per month. That is a few years ago, looking at todays petrol prices I would have been paying to work!
Currently self employed and was trying to work without paying for chidcare which as you can imagine is almost near impossible. I have found a great childminder but I am not sure how I am going to pay her as I'm not really earning anything at the moment. Unless I can earn enough to cover the CB that we will be losing in 2013 I might as well accept that my working days are over as I don't have any way of paying for childcare once we lose the CB.
rick, did you know its illegal for nurseries to charge a "top up fee" on the 15 hours. So if they are accepting children for 15 hours free care, they have to take off 15 hours free care no matter what cost??!! They can care for more care of course, but not on those 15 hours. New rules that came into place April 2011!
We planned dc2 so that dd1 would be at primary school when my maternity leave ended and we could afford for the baby to be in childcare and I'd return to my 30-hour a week job. However, I am pregnant with twins. We are delighted but terrified about the financial implications - I work and get paid for term time only, Childcare will cost about £1500 a month - £600 more than I earn. Looks like I'll be a SAHM but can't really afford it. We will probably use all our savings to survive until they are 3 and we get 15hours a week. We never wanted to be poor and have always worked but feel helpless.
Starkadder, people are living longer, the UK population is becoming top heavy with older people, so we do need more babies to become future tax payers to support the ageing population.
We pay nearly £500 per month for 3 days per week for DS, 21 months old. We may not have another child because we can't afford childcare for 2 and by the time DS is at school, DP will be too old to want to have another.
We can't afford for me not to work either. It does make me sad and frustrated.
Just had DS, had DD 2 years ago. Planning to go back to work 3 days a week in February next year but that will cost roughly a grand. As I have to commute to my job, once you take the cost of fuel into it along with the upkeep of my car, it becomes apparent that I will really only be working to keep my (part-time) job.
Can't decide if it's a blessing or a curse that I love my job. If I hated it, it would probably be a SAHM and not be working for nothing.
We can afford the childcare, we have offered my parents money for looking after the kids but they won't take it. My Mum says it is her pleasure to look after them, just as my grandparents looked after my sister and I. That's what being a family is about.
As they won't take any money we instead pay for them to go on holiday and for shopping, meals out etc when they'll let us!!
I work 4 days a week and earn just over £30k (£38k FTE, so not a bad wage). At the moment, with just one child, childcare costs aren't a particular issue, although we don't have the disposable income we had pre-children and have made adjustments to our lifestyle accordingly. We hope however to have a second child in the next 12 - 18 months and that is when the balance between my income from working / outgoing on childcare costs will be more finely balanced. We may be slightly better off with me staying at home when childcare costs are multiplied by two. This will depend on whether we qualify for any free provision and also whether the short term financial loss is outweighed by the fact I will still be earning when our oldest child goes to school. It seems astonishing that my pretty decent wage could be swallowed up entirely by childcare.
I am also concerned about wrap around care when my child(ren) reach school age. My boss envisages me going back full time at this point, but I can really see the opposite being the case, that I have to reduce my hours in order to fit in with the school day.
I am paying to work but with a view that it is our childcare years.
2 dd's in school & 1 DD in preschool 5 mornings a week.
4 days a week with a chilminder @ £300 a month (very good rate bacause she is new to the buisness)
Petrol £200 a month
The school holidays are a mine field of childcare & can cost upto £40 extra a day to find childcare for my elder 2 (DD3 will stay with the childminder)
I had a career break, 3 years so have had to start all over agian as my CV looks like a 12 yr olds.
It is disheartening but I wouldn't want to pay my child care providers any less because their job is more important to me than mine is right now & i'm just looking forward to the first month in years & years to come that my wage is all for me
I have two DS's, 2 years apart. DS1 has only just started to receive his 15hrs funding. When looking at my options for returning to work after DS2 it was not financially worth it for me to return given the cost of full-time childcare for 2 under 3's. We have no relatives nearby.
I know that we are fortunate that we can just about afford for me not to work and survive on DP's salary. However, I do think that until there is more support, in the way of subsidised places or similar, it will continue to be difficlut for women in the workplace. I do not regret the time at home with y children, but my ideal would have been to be able to continue some sort of work, pension contribution etc, without it actually costing me money.
My DS is ten months. I chose to go back to work two months ago as i thought we would be better off as a family with us both working. However, as i have earned 'too much' I don't get much help when not working. But the incredible childcare costs, long shifts, inflexibility of my career and travel costs meant that I actually took home very very little.
I chose then after several weeks to give up work as i only ever got to see my daughter once a week and only benefitted from a little under £200 quid a month after other costs. If there was a better incentive from the government for me to work I would! I WANT to work, but there is no gain from it!!!
Why should I slave my arse off after years of career progression, see little gain whilst there are benefit scroungers out there?!
In our case it was dh (as the lower earner) for whom it was not worth continuing to work. We were paying out 2000 a month in childcare costs, dh took home 2600, the train ticket was nearly 400 so in effect he was working for 200 pm ,easily swallowed up by lunches etc, the hidden cost of workkng. Dd goes to school this year and we are lucky enough to have good wrap around care, so dh has just gone back ( on a reduced salary, partly due to the recession, partly to his career break. Before dh left his job we were both higher tax payers!
I earn £95k, sounds a lot right? My net income is just over £4.5k a month, of which £3.2k goes to paying our nanny, which is the only form of childcare that will accommodate my job. Once my travel costs, £250 a month are subtracted, I'm effectively taking home £250 a week. And that doesn't reflect the cost of lunch, dry cleaning etc. At the end of the day I feel that my only benefit is the non-contributory element of my company's pension. Paying for a gross salary out of a net salary sucks. There should at least be a tax break. Five years of uni and 12 years of building a career and I feel sufficiently demoralised to throw in the towel and stay home.
omg, does a nanny really cost £3k a month? . I really need to know more about the real world
exactly starmucks, that was the issue i was facing, but on a salary more like 70k, which is loads to earn, but not enough if you are paying a nanny out of net salary (and only a nanny would have provided the flexibility i needed, extra hours as i would have had to travel, so does dh).
it wasn't actually a hard decision to stop work in the end.
yes jimswife, esp if you need some flexibility, early starts/late nights on a regular basis.
DH and I are putting off DC2 until DS is over 3. Can't afford 2 children in nursery or with CM on my salary, and DH's salary is taken up with mortgage etc as it is!
That said, my CM and nursery are worth their weight in gold, so I almost feel I'm not paying them enough - but then can't realistically afford to pay them more.
childcare vouchers are a great idea, but have taken me a while to get my head around.
Jimswife, it doesn't matter if your childcare is £40 a week; if you are only taking home £40 or £50 a week after those costs how can you manage?
When I looked into a childminder at normal hours which I don't work (!) it was going to set me back £1600 a month for 2 Dc's, one of those in ft education and that being a lower charging CM too! So at the end of the month, I'd have had just £108 to pay for absolutely everything else! earn too much to get much help, so it wasn't even possible to continue working at that point.
And whilst there certainly are benefit 'scroungers' out there makeminealarge, we aren't all that way inclined, it's just circumstances that mean that we/they need help. I actually liked earning my salary, being independant and buying the odd treat now and again and it wasn't a particularly easy decision to make to go onto benefits, but it seemed the only way I could live...hopefully things will change for the better for those of us that would like to work and support our families, but there seems little point in working for nothing whilst someone else effectively raises your children.
Solo, that's exactly why I didnt go back to work until they were school age - the relative costs are horrendous yes - I couldnt earn enough to cover a minder for 2 kids. But I'm just so shocked at £3k for a nanny; thats twice what dh brings home, and he's a specialist in his field and he's been there 22 years
Yes, I see what you mean! it's a 'shock' when you see that someone else pays a (knock on effect) employee more than you earn isn't it. It is more than I would earn too if/when I return.
I think we are damned if we do and damned if we don't.
starmucks, amidaiwish - that is exactly the same sum we faced. Fortunately, so far, we have survived by co-ordinating so that we are not often starting early/ getting home late / away at the same time. When that fails, my parents step in and rescue us. Without them, a nanny would be the only option and I would effectively be working for ~£100 / month. As it is we exist on a complex and fragile jigsaw of after school care and holiday clubs which causes me ongoing stress but is more affordable.
Starmucks wow just goes to show how expensive it is to raise children when you can't afford to pay for childcare on £95k per annum! I remember my ex-boss suggesting that I employ a nanny as it would give me more flexiblity, I was earning less than £12k (3 day week) not sure what planet he was on.
My childcare costs are 6 times my mortgage costs. (2 children under 5)
I cannot possibly afford a nanny, but it seems ridiculous that anyone should have to pay someone's salary, tax and NI out of their aready taxed/NI'd income.
The thing is Jimwife, the nanny doesn;t earn 3k in her hand but that is the cost to her employer - tax, NI, employers NIC. Then theres holiday pay, sick cover and maternity pay if she gets pregnant.
I know there are lots of people desperate to come to the UK and work here starkadder but there will if we stop having children there will nto be enough people in the future to pay for eveything. We need children to be born and as I aslo said if childcare is subsidised that allows parents to go to work and pay their taxes.
Yes, I agree it's a ridiculous position to be in. Our nanny is wonderful, she works long hours and I don't begrudge her a penny: her net salary is about £540 a week. Her day starts at 6.45am and ends at 6.30pm. What I am aggrieved about is paying employers NI at £360 a month. ARE YOU LISTENING GEORGE OSBORN? YOU are taxing smart women out of the work place.
Yep, I can see that, and agree its shit. Thats why we could never do anything like that. And why I'm resigned to never returning to a career but rather just having jobs.
£540 a week net tho; dh brings home about £1400 a month net unless he does o/t. Slightly less hours than the 6.45-6.30 of course, but then he spends between 3 and 4 hrs a day on the commute, wheras I'm assuming the nanny lives close or even in?
yes and that is why people prefer to get cheaper au pairs or pay nannies cash in hand. they can't afford it otherwise.
not saying it's right, but that's the reality. and all it does is undermine childcare as a profession.
Was interested in this thread partly because of the reference in the headline to Switzerland being more expensive than the UK for childcare. We relocated to Switzerland three years ago for work purposes. We have two children in state provided nursery schools for three days each week (all day). They will take children from about 6 months - 4 years. Here, in state nurseries, parents pay strictly according to what they earn. So for us, with a net household income of approx £36k, we pay £200 a month for one child to spend 3 days at nursery each week. Drop off available from 6.30am and pick up by 6pm. It includes fantastic facilities and very high-quality childcare, lots of outdoor space, well-organised play, excellent food (more like a French restaurant than nursery food!) and so on. I presume they can keep fees low like this because it receives substantial funding from the state taxpayer. However, taxes are lower in Switzerland than in the UK! It all works brilliantly for parents. Obviously, the more/less you earn the more/less you would pay but this gives you a general idea. In London, with a child in a private nursery 5 days a week all day, we paid a flat £2000 per month and the standard wasn't nearly as good (no outdoor space etc in central London). I would like to see this system of fees being based on salary looked at for the UK, whether it could work or not. Anyway, it disproves that Switzerland is not always more expensive than the UK for childcare!
I'm due to go back to work in September when DS1 will be 10 months and the thought of how much money I'll be earning after childcare makes me want to cry. I have a management job in local gov and will be changing to work 3 days a week, but after childcare costs, petrol and parking I'll be taking home about £15 a day. Unless I have a payslip which shows a certain amount coming in we won't be able to remortgage our flat as DH doesn't earn enough on his own. So in essence I will be working for a piece of paper. Fantastic! And the £15 will certainly be helpful in getting the bills paid, as we all know that the gas and electricity doesn't get any cheaper just because you have children. I don't want to be on benefits. We both work hard and have fairly good jobs, but you can't help but want some kind of financial help when you pay more in tax than you get to spend on your household.
Such an important topic but a very poorly designed questionnaire. As has been mentioned by another poster, simply because you have good provision locally so haven't had problems finding childcare doesn't mean that you don't have other problems associated with the cost! Being directed straight to question 12 and not being allowed to describe those problems defines you as 'without any problems' - which isn't going to be the case for many people.
I have no problems getting good quality childcare for instance, but it costs a bomb and I am in overdraft every month because of it, but the questionnaire's design wouldn't allow me to register that. So I clicked out of it and my response at least has been lost. I wonder how many others did the same?
The reason it does not work in the UK, is because childless people do not want to be taxed for other people's children. But they are not looking at the big picture.
It is an investment in the future of the country.
I am really glad to see this issue being highlighted by Mumsnet. I cannot understand why this is not a major political issue. The recent childcare trust report that showed the increasing costs of childcare was reported by the press but seemed to generate very little in the way of comment.
I hate to make this a feminist issue, as I know it is a problem the whole family must face, but in the vast majority of cases it is women who are priced out of work, women who give up promising careers and the longer term benefits of pensions and progression to higher earning positions.
As Starmucks has pointed out this problem affects women at nearly all salary levels. The 'childcare maths' for paying for full-time care for 2 children in London is terrifying.
I am in the position myself where I must decide whether to limit my family size to one child, or TTC a much wanted 2nd and either give up a promising professional career that I have worked for years to develop or work for a loss.
The government professes a wish to see more female directors of FTSE 500 companies, more female MPs, headteachers, partners in law firms, hospital consultants ...... and then does little to remove the obvious barrier to women's career progression that is the prohibitive cost of childcare.
In short, this sucks. Why are we not making more fuss?
I think thing don't change because it takes too darn long for change to happen, by which time you've moved on to consider the problems with the next phase of childhood (primary schools for example) and you're less likely to have the time and energy to fight for an issue which no longer affects you.
Well as a single parent Registered Childminder in Scotland with 2 kids of her own, aged 7 and 4 who charges £3.75 per hour per space regardless of child's age, this thread is interesting. A child who comes to me for 8 hours a day costs their parent £30 - does that sound a lot to you? My childminding service is open between 8am and 6pm - a 10 hour day - I could earn £37.50 per pre-school child for these hours before tax deductions. Given the ages of my own children I could have another 2 children under school age per day which if full time would be £75 per day and another 2 before and after school children (as per the rules in Scotland) which would be up to £30.
Maybe some of you need to take a reality check
So Tantrum, given that you charge between £1200 and £1500 a month for 2 children under school age, you think that this is an amount that most people can comfortably afford out of their full time salary do you?
Tantrum I think reality checks are all too available every time parents paying for childcare look at their bank balances! The general consensus was not that childcare providers earn too much (clearly they don't - commercial ones struggle to make a profit, and childminding is hardly a lucrative profession for most) - but that there are next to no tax breaks or other state support (other than the far-from-universally-available £243/month salary sacrifice, which doesn't really touch the edges of most childcare bills) so that the money comes from already heavily taxed income and most households simply do not have £1000+ 'spare' per month.
Also - childminders are probably the least expensive option, and are not widely available. When I went back after DC2, I looked far and wide (15 mile radius) and could not find one (note - not couldn't find one I liked - I couldn't find anyone with any availability at all)
Tantrum where has anyone said that they begrudge paying the chidcarer what they do?
Where has anyone said that chidcarers earn too much?
The common complaint is that childcare costs are probably the biggest outlay a family has to make each month (maybe 2nd to the mortgage but not in all cases). If you employ a nanny you have to pay a full gross salary out of a net salary earned.
In fact more people have said that childcareres don;t earn enough!
I don't have a problem with what childminders/nannies/nurseries charge as I understand it's a business, they have to cover their costs and make some profit. The problem I have is how unaffordable that is for a lot (most?) families.
I looked into childcare when I recently went for a job interview. I didn't go to the second interview because I had found out there was no way I could afford to do the job even if they offered me the top of their advertised salary range.
I have a 4yo and a 1yo. The 4yo is at (school) nursery for 15 hours a week. However, because of the pick up time I'd have to pay a full day rate for a childminder. Full day rate for 2 under 5's with a cm plus transport to work was more than the salary. Ironically it would have been cheaper for my parents to move down here and for us to pay their rent and bills than pay a childminder . It would also have solved the problem of taking time off when the kids are ill.
The other problem I had was the hours offered by childminders and nurseries. Almost all of them only offer care until 6pm. In particular of the ones near dd1's school who could pick her up, only one offered later care. She offered until 6.30pm EXCEPT on a Friday when she only worked until 4.30pm . I doubt dh's boss would have been too pleased at him saying I'll have to leave an hour and half early every Friday. FWIW dh (like most people here) finishes work at 5.30pm in the city centre and can't get home until just after 6pm because of the train times. I really can't understand why a childminder wouldn't work around those times .
It may be possible financially when dd1 starts full time school BUT I'm still left with the problem of finding childcare that covers until one of us gets home. The after school club has a 6pm close too.
tantrum, have you actually bothered to read this thread, at all? The overwhelming opinion is that childcarers are not paid too much, but paying out of taxed income is too much. Where or where does it say otherwise??
I pay my Childminder £60 per day for one child (8.00am-5.30pm) not including food/nappies/wipes. Full time this equates to £1,300 pcm or >£15,000 per year. She looks after 3 children fulltime. I deduct she therefore earns a gross salary of >£45,000, working from home, still able to do the school run for her own primary age child and without childcare costs of her own.
She is very good at her job and I'm not saying she earns too much. However, consider jobs that earn an equivalent salary in the public sector:
Lower band (L6) deputy head/head-teacher
Band 8 Agenda for Change jobs in the Health Service: Advanced pharmacists, nurse & midwife consultants, Superintendent Radiographers (diagnostic/therapeutic), higher management, psychologists, senior therapists (divided into 4 bands - a, b, c, d), Senior Chief Clinical Physiologists
Hospital Doctor - Registrar 10 years post-graduate
A lot of people just completely insist on having these things known as kids and one of the huge things a parent has to give is child care during infancy and early childhood. It's not exactly affordable either, as child care expenses have been increasing away for a while.
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