Tell us what you think about childcare costs?

(118 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-May-11 16:47:06

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.

MrsKwazii Mon 09-May-11 17:37:25

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.

Crysalis Mon 09-May-11 17:59:07

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.

amidaiwish Mon 09-May-11 18:06:23

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.

SoloIsApparentlyACougar Mon 09-May-11 18:08:03

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.

amidaiwish Mon 09-May-11 18:17:19

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.

MrsKwazii Mon 09-May-11 18:17:44

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 confused

Insomnia11 Mon 09-May-11 18:19:15

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.

jimswifein1964 Mon 09-May-11 18:33:14

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....

southeastastra Mon 09-May-11 18:43:20

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!

bluebump Mon 09-May-11 18:52:07

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.

smokinaces Mon 09-May-11 18:56:50

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.

Want2bSupermum Mon 09-May-11 19:23:47

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.

HMTheQueen Mon 09-May-11 19:33:40

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.

cairnterrier Mon 09-May-11 19:36:42

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.

Bumply Mon 09-May-11 19:41:24

It was main reason behind the 4 year gap between DS1 and DS2.
Couldn't have afforded fulltime childcare for both at once.

C4ro Mon 09-May-11 19:43:42

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...

Jojay Mon 09-May-11 19:46:44

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.

jade80 Mon 09-May-11 20:00:52

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.

amidaiwish Mon 09-May-11 20:11:46

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.

Guildenstern Mon 09-May-11 20:11:55

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.

OddBoots Mon 09-May-11 20:15:12

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.

Needanewname Mon 09-May-11 20:31:26

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.

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