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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.

Mbear Mon 09-May-11 20:52:30

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?

EldonAve Mon 09-May-11 21:22:35

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

GastonTheLadybird Mon 09-May-11 21:33:21

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.

jellybeans Mon 09-May-11 21:39:27

'they either want women/both parents working or not'

It shouldn't be up to them.

PeppaKew Mon 09-May-11 21:39:57

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.

Dysgu Mon 09-May-11 22:23:57

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!

stealthsquiggle Mon 09-May-11 22:27:55

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.

makemineapinot Mon 09-May-11 23:02:55

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!!!

Ripeberry Mon 09-May-11 23:22:14

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.

SoloIsApparentlyACougar Mon 09-May-11 23:26:49

Dreadful to wish your childs babyhood away just so we get 'help' with childcare for a few hours a week sad.
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.

SoloIsApparentlyACougar Mon 09-May-11 23:32:20

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 what would you suggest? If only life were that straight forward.

Mellowfruitfulness Tue 10-May-11 06:48:50

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.

LCarbury Tue 10-May-11 07:12:23

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.

stealthsquiggle Tue 10-May-11 07:40:51

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.

trixymalixy Tue 10-May-11 08:35:39

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.

jellybeans Tue 10-May-11 09:27:10

'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!

gilesfitzh Tue 10-May-11 10:10:57

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' smile
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 smile

Needanewname Tue 10-May-11 10:18:46

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!!!!!

amidaiwish Tue 10-May-11 10:21:40

ditto Needanewname

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.

bonkers20 Tue 10-May-11 10:43:02

#11 doesn't consider people who have no mortgage or rent. Childcare is our largest outgoing by a LONG way.

Snuppeline Tue 10-May-11 11:01:07

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.

bunjies Tue 10-May-11 11:50:08

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!

YourMam Tue 10-May-11 12:07:23

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.

Needanewname Tue 10-May-11 12:30:04

Don;t know why but I thought I might get flamed for suggesting that childcare is more subsidised. Should have known better really!!!!

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