UK childcare can be notoriously expensive, and the latest research from the Daycare Trust doesn’t make encouraging reading.
The organisation found that childcare costs have typically increased by more than the average wage – putting parents under real financial strain.
If you can’t afford a nanny, au-pair or individual childminder for your kids, don’t despair. Here are five ways you could cut the cost of childcare.
Free early learning care
Under the law, all three and four-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free nursery education a week – for 38 weeks of the year.
The care is available at play groups, nurseries, children’s centres and childminders. You can find out more about free early learning care on the Directgov website.
Sharing a nanny with another family could bring the cost of childcare right down. Also if you pay a tutor, you can get a nanny tutor in one, this way you get both services for a much affordable price.
NannyShare.co.uk and TheNannySharers.co.uk are both websites that bring together families looking for nannies. You can search by postcode to find families near you. Then you team up and find a nanny that suits you both!
Holiday and after-school clubs
Children don’t necessarily need childminders after school or during the holidays; it might be cheaper to send them to a local after-school or holiday club instead.
These clubs are regulated and inspected by Ofsted and are usually based on school premises, community or youth centres.
During school terms, authorised carers will pick up children after school and take them to these clubs. And during school holidays, the same organisations often put on extra daytime activities.
To find out about affordable, holiday and after-school clubs in your area, contact your local authority.
Working from home
It might also be worth asking your employer about the possibility of working from home a couple of days a week.
This may not always be a practical solution, but you have the legal right to ask for flexible working if the following criteria apply:
- Your child is under 17;
- Your child is under 18 and disabled;
- You have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks and are responsible for your child on a day-to-day basis.
You can find out more about flexible working in this Citizens Advice Bureau guide.
Babysitting each other’s children
Creating a ‘babysitting circle’ with a group of friends – caring for each other’s children from time to time – could be a real money saver.
However, while it’s fine to do this under certain circumstances, you need to be aware of the legal restrictions involved.
Essentially, the law usually requires someone to register as a childminder if he or she gains a reward for caring for other people’s children (under the age of eight) in his or her own home or someone else’s home.
You don’t usually need to register if you’re looking after children in their own home, if you’re a close family member (for example, a grandparent, brother or aunt) or if you’re not receiving any reward (for example, payment).
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