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Rising Childcare Costs, what can be done?

(22 Posts)
Cindy34 Tue 04-Mar-14 08:27:40

Justine was on R4Today this morning discussing childcare costs.

Listen here.

Is extending the 2 year old education scheme really a viable option?

Do breakfast clubs / after school clubs suit all children?

Is our 24 hour culture responsible in any way... such as having more people working shifts, childcare needed at various times not just 9-5?

Are funding schemes financially viable for providers?

Is there too much legislation that small employers (pre-schools, nurseries, childminders with an assistant, parents using a carer, parents using a nanny) need to comply with?

What could Government do? Nationalise childcare?

minderjinx Tue 04-Mar-14 09:13:53

I think tax breaks for parents using childcare are a win-win solution for government - supporting employment in childcare as well as encouraging parents to work, and of course all paying tax. But a big issue with all government schemes, whether it is taxation or vouchers or funding, is that they tend not to recognise that costs and prices differ so enormously around the country, and to try to put in place a one size fits all solution.

NomDeClavier Tue 04-Mar-14 11:43:50

Not a lot until the Government look at the real cost of provision. People are working magic with what funding they have but all this aspiration to highly qualified staff vs the sector and parents wanting to keep ratios low is costly.

oscarwilde Tue 04-Mar-14 12:08:00

The Tories profess to be lovers of the free market and lets face it, they'd make a shocking job of running state nurseries. Make it at least 50% tax deductible and set standards at a reasonable level. People can then find a solution that suits them rather than trying to mould their children and families into the one size fits all solutions available at the moment. The market will take care of the flexibility if people can actually afford it.

A family should be able to set a "salary" for a SAHM which is added to their tax free allowance. A modern married couples allowance if you like. Of course the reality is that it would be at most �10k pa whereas the real cost is closer to �30k for two pre-school children but there you go.

This morning's "average" figures were laughable. �7500 - �11k a year on childcare. I wish. �10net per hour is circa �35k per annum to the nanny, �38k pa to me.

It might be a national average but the reality is very different for many parents particularly in the South East. Childcare vouchers (with both parents) amount to a "saving" of circa �100per month for a high income couple. It's a joke.

The other major help would be more flexible working encouraged for men. It's career suicide for many to even ask for it even if it is a "right"

LauraBridges Tue 04-Mar-14 12:26:06

Childcare workers are still paid very little so there is not a lot of scope to reduce childcare costs. Even in my day it was pricey. We spent 50% of the net wage of each of us on the nanny in the first year i.e. one of us worked for nothing for that year (although our wages rose in time so that was worth the sacrifice). (A nanny can be the cheapest option for 10 hours a day with 3 children under 5).

These issues tend to end up about money. Indeed even giving women rights to work were as much about employers needing them as any altruistic aim to help women. In WWII suddenly there were loads of free nurseries so women could work in munitions factories and then those women were dumped at home after WWII often very unhappily.

So if the nation needs more parents in work it is likely to offer more cheaper childcare. I doubt it does at present and obviously it suits sexist men extremely well if women can be chained to kitchens and not competing with men for top jobs at work or indeed any jobs.

They could certainly abolish much of the pointless regulation. Why can I have someone in my home as a nanny without any regulation and if instead the babies go to the home of a childminder all kinds of rules then apply?

oscarwilde Tue 04-Mar-14 12:37:21

Hi Laura - if childcare was tax deductible we could afford to pay childcare workers more and actually all the endless regulation and red tape might be worth their while bothering with.

Cindy34 Tue 04-Mar-14 13:20:09

Didn't the regulations start following WWII? Wonder what the situation was before then? Did all mums stay at home?

Blondeshavemorefun Tue 04-Mar-14 14:29:58

I have always said that the parents who work and pay childcare costs should pay the childcare salary first then have tax taken off the amount left of what they earn

NomDeClavier Tue 04-Mar-14 16:54:23

Childcare has been regulated since the 1800s in some way shape or form. Women were certainly working in WWI but the need became even more acute in WWII.

I'm not a fan of throwing all the legislation out. In fact I think there's an argument for reducing what applies to CMs and increasing what applies nannies. In fact it shouldn't be so much about where the care takes place but about what it does, which would enable people to get EYE funding in their own home with an appropriately qualified nanny and CMs to opt out of the EYFS if they wish. A lot of the small business legislation should be relaxed.

Also how the legislative burden falls is unfair, particularly wrt regulation. CMs should not be treated as nurseries. The employment side of things is unfortunate but necessary.

LauraBridges Tue 04-Mar-14 18:08:00

Until the state economically needs more mothers in work it will not make childcare more affordable. That's the bottom line. At the moment despite low birth rates we have enough immigrants and enough of a shortage of jobs to mean there is no huge need to get more mothers into work.

There is no support for more regulation of nannies thank goodness so that will not happen either. Even the change to remove the first £2000 of employer national insurance so many mothers and fathers pay on the nanny's salary is not applicable to nannies - just charities and small companies. So even when there was that huge chance to help even just to the tune of £2k they did not take it to avoid headlines - Tories help employers of nannies.

We could force benefits seekers with children of any age to work including looking after the children of others free in return for their benefits. That might cost nothing and indeed save the state some money.

NomDeClavier Tue 04-Mar-14 18:38:59

Laura I think you'll find there is support, although not necessarily from the Govt. Nannies are getting fed up of being excluded and treated as second class citizens because anyone can be a nanny. Regulation doesn't need to mean inspection/making them into CMs, it just means consistency.

Tanith Tue 04-Mar-14 19:12:58

Laura, do you honestly think young children should be left with people who do not want to look after them, solely to save their parents money?

Have you really such a poor opinion of our sector that you think anyone can do our job and they don't even have to be paid for it?

Would you entrust your child to a resentful carer who has been forced to look after him or her for free?

Motherhen39 Tue 04-Mar-14 19:41:48

Oh for goodness sake laura childcare is a vocation not just a way to earn money, believe me there are much easier ways to earn a modest living than educating 3 under fives per day for up to 11 hours each, then completing roughly 25 mins of paperwork per child on top of those hours, no lunch or even toilet breaks. You have to be a caring, compassionate and motivated person in order to childmind, not just be looking after someone's children to retain benefit payments. The thought horrifies me.

Mimishimi Wed 05-Mar-14 05:04:06

Hmmm, well the truth is a lot of current childcare workers do not want to be there, it's just that they didn't/don't have too many other options. That is why there is such high turnover. So I'm not sure that Laura's idea is such a terrible one. Due to the low wages and prospects, it does tend to attract those who might be on benefits otherwise anyway.

TheGreatHunt Wed 05-Mar-14 07:57:44

I would like greater flexibility for everyone not just parents to reduce resentment. Would make it s bit easier. And decent cheaper childcare partly funded by tax breaks so that childcare workers get a decent wage.

Tanith Wed 05-Mar-14 07:58:19

There are many more dedicated, professional childcarers who do want to care for and work with young children. Which would you prefer looking after your child?

Surely we want to discourage those who think childcare is the easy option? We certainly don't want to leave them in sole charge of our precious children!

Tanith Wed 05-Mar-14 08:03:49

The real problem is not that childcare is too expensive; it is that wages are too low and Government subsidies and funding, designed to help keep those wages low in the name of competitiveness, have now been removed or cut.

Addressing the real problem will make your childcare more affordable. Liz Truss squandering millions on unwanted agencies will not.

whodidthatthistime Wed 05-Mar-14 08:07:21

tbh I'm sick of all the hype

Im a CM... I charge £3.30 per hour. i dont charge if you dont use the service or i have a day off (like when i was in hospital and the service was cancelled). Im open 50 weeks a year and work 7 days a week.

i have less than 2 full time kids with me. How on earth am i supposed to earn a living wage?

yet when parents come to me they tell me that there is hardly any provision on the island....

insancerre Wed 05-Mar-14 08:09:51

* Due to the low wages and prospects, it does tend to attract those who might be on benefits otherwise anyway.*
Not true in my nursery.
We have recently recruited new staff- all have to be qualified to a level 3, all have to have a decent education, english and maths are essential, all have to be passionate and dedicated to their job.
I agree with tanith- my job is my vocation- I have a degree and lead practice in a nursery. I'm certainly not doing it for the money (hollow laugh)
I saw a post on facebook that made me say 'oh yes!' the other day- something like teaching is the only profession where you stael things from your home and take them into work
That's so true, all s dedicated professionals use our own resources and our own time to plan and prepare activities because we don't want the children to miss out. We could pass the costs on to the parents but we recognise that families are struggling already without extra costs

MrsKwazii Wed 05-Mar-14 08:15:27

The nursery we use charges a maximum of £50 per ten hour day, so £5 per hour at most. I don't think that's actually that expensive considering.

My problem is that I haven't had a cost of living pay increase for four years, and thanks to role reviews my pay is actually about to go down. Rising costs for petrol, food, utilities as well as childcare have eroded how far my money goes. My wages keeping up with costs is more of an issue, not reducing what is already a fairly reasonable (in hourly terms) childcare bill.

whodidthatthistime Wed 05-Mar-14 08:18:36

oh and i dont charge for a standard day, so if you only want two hours then you pay for two hours.

I'm educated to post graduate degree level

I think that peoples childcare costs should be taken into account before tax is applied to thier wages. then they would have a chance

PrincessOfChina Wed 05-Mar-14 08:28:32

The staff my nursery uses very highly qualified staff - looking at the board, I would estimate that there are about 50% of them with degrees in Early Childhood etc and each room leader is a qualified Early Years teacher. There are some qualified "just" to NVQ Level 3 but they are encouraged to do further study.

I appreciate this quality, and it is reflected in the price we pay. We currently have just 1 DD and she attends full time which costs almost £11k per year. Making that tax deductible would actually probably enable me not to work full time!

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