Yesterday is was all of the news that people were paying more on the cost of childcare than they pay on their mortgage and there were various threads on mumsnet and Facebook groups basically slating childcare providers and what they charge.
I have written about this before but I was comparing Nursery costs versus Nanny versus childminder.
If you don’t know, I am a childminder and I have to admit I do get incensed by people complaining about the cost of childcare. We generally charge less than minimum wage per hour, yet we are trained to professionally look after the most precious thing ever – human life, children – we nurture, care, protect and help develop.
I do understand where people are coming from – I left my job in an Investment Bank as I could not afford childcare for two children and they were not prepared to be flexible with my hours. Yes is was heartbreaking at the time but as a manager I understood that they were bound by the needs of the business and flexible working cannot be accommodated by everyone, especially the team I was in.
Because of the area I live, I charge less than £4 per hour but I know that people nearer London charge more. I get no subsidies and out of this I have to provide:
- Equipment (safety and educational toys)
- Entry to local attractions / soft play
- Insurances (Liability / Car)
- First Aid Course
- Annual Ofsted renewal fees
- Stationery (Record books for children as well as financial paperwork)
- NCMA annual membership
None of this comes cheap and is not provided and to add insult to injury, this year they have started to charge for courses that were initially free. These courses are compulsory to ensure our safeguarding training etc is up together. In my first year as a childminder I made a loss – people certainly are not in this for the money and we have a mortgage and a family to feed too.
My Aunt runs a nursery and she certainly isn’t rolling in money either – in fact she used to run three but closed two as she couldn’t financially keep them open. On top of all that I have to fork out for, they have overheads and wages to pay too.
Childcare costs isn’t a new phenomenon either – when my eldest three were young I had to fork out for nursery /after school clubs too. I used to dread the summer holidays and hubby and I barely saw each other as we tried to work our shifts around childcare to reduce the amount we were paying. However, we saw it as an investment in our careers.
There wasn’t the funding / help there is now either. Now you can claim 2 year funding (if you earn under £16,190) plus Childcare vouchers are a real saving too. Many lower earners are also entitled to 70% of their childcare costs covered by Child Tax Credit too.
I am not sure how the government could help. I would like to see two year funding extended to help higher earners who are probably the most squeezed at the moment or the return of Child Tax Credit in the higher earners band – this is certainly what made me give up work.
Do you have any ideas or solutions that you think would work?
Ultimately you need to decide whether you can afford childcare costs before you have a child or are willing to take a career break!