Childcare is an integral and indispensable service for most families in the UK. However, it comes with a staggering financial burden that impacts access to the service and quality of care. But why is this so? Let’s dive into the details.
Essential but Expensive
Many parents in the UK struggle to afford childcare because of the hefty financial implications. In fact, the UK has one of the most expensive childcare services in the world. Several factors contribute to the high cost of childcare in the UK including staffing expenses, regulatory standards, limited Government funding and soaring costs of living. Let’s pick each apart!
One of the major reasons why childcare is a luxury in the UK is high staffing costs. Childcare providers must employ highly-skilled and well-trained staff to ensure optimum delivery including safety and well-being. Childcare personnel include nursery nurses, early-year teachers, licensed home service nannies and support staff. You must have the right qualifications to provide childcare and support such as a level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education.
These qualifications or certifications typically take a long time to complete and earn, and as such , employers are expected to pay heavily for these services. Also, childcare providers are required to undergo regular training and development to upskill or polish their knowledge vault and this subsequently contributes to the cost of childcare.
Limited Government Investment and Funding
Another primary factor that contributes to the high cost of childcare in the UK is the lack of or minimum Government investment and funding in the sector. Unlike other European countries where Governments invest heavily in the childcare sector, the UK spends only a sparse amount on childcare. According to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UK invests only about 0.7% of its GDP in early childhood education and care which is lower than the OECD’s average standard of 0.8%.
Government funding also varies from region to region which creates a gap/inequalities in accessibility. The halfhearted investment in childcare on the part of the Government has led to an increase in childcare services privatization — Private companies own more than two-thirds of nurseries in the country while the remainder is owned by charities, local councils and state-run schools. As such, childcare providers across the UK charge higher fees to cover costs and make up for the Government’s shortcomings. And this of course translates to higher service costs and charges for parents.
Strict Regulatory Requirements
When it comes to childcare delivery, the UK has one of the highest standards and guidelines in the world. While this in itself is commendable and not to be critiqued, there appear to be negative side effects. The UK Government enacts strict rules and guidelines concerning staff-to-child ratios, qualifications and facilities to ensure that every child receives the highest quality of care and isn’t exposed to risks and dangers. But these standard practices can be expensive to execute and maintain.
For one, the UK childcare law stipulates that there must be a certain number of staff members assigned to a child per age. Children under the age of two must have at least a staff member to tend to every three children. This requirement means that childcare providers need to hire more staff members to fulfil the law. And the more employees, the higher the childcare cost for parents.
High Costs of Living
The UK is currently grappling with soaring costs of living influenced by inflation, energy costs and other factors. The cost of housing, utilities and other basic amenities are getting higher by the day, with workers demanding better wages and economic reform. This has a ripple effect on the childcare industry as service providers (especially privately-owned enterprises)have to pay their workers higher wages to compensate for rising living expenses.
Also, parents that hire individual house service childcare providers have to pay higher wages to cover their provider’s mounting expenses. Hence, childcare becomes even more expensive and unaffordable for parents struggling with the economic decline. A UK parent who is living from hand to mouth or who has to pay substantial bills on a low income might consider childcare an inaccessible luxury!
As explained earlier, childcare providers expect reasonable compensation for their services given their qualifications and workload. But surprisingly, as expensive as childcare is, in the UK, childcare staff are among the lowest-paid workers in the country. A Trades Union Congress (TUC) report states that childcare personnel in the UK earn a measly sum of £8.75 per hour, significantly lower than the country’s average wage.
As a result, childcare companies and service providers confront high staff turnover rates and spend more money (that they naturally shouldn’t) on recruitment processes and training. Alas, this “avoidable” investment equates to higher service costs for parents.
Location is another factor that contributes to high childcare costs in the UK. Childcare providers strive to operate from a location that is convenient and appealing for their clientele. The majority of parents prefer centres that are within short driving or walking distance from their homes. They also appreciate a clean and inviting facility with a beautiful setting in a low-traffic area.
Because of these reasons, childcare centres spend a fortune on location, aesthetics and functional structures to appeal to their target market and increase patronage. Even home-based childcare centres spend a considerable amount of money on curb appeal and other structural and functional elements to meet the standards of their clientele. And parents have to pay for these investments!
Lack of Flexibility
Many parents deal with long work hours and are unable to work from home. Thus, they are forced to pay for full-time childcare. And full-time childcare is much more expensive than standard childcare services. So a parent who lacks a flexible working arrangement has to cough up more money for childcare delivery.
Also, this lack of flexibility promotes an unhealthy work-life balance and takes a huge toll on parents and their children. Stress, exasperation, frustration and unfulfillment become the order of the day. Children are subjected to 24/7 childcare with minimal attention from their parents while the adults deal with gut-wrenching guilt.
The Impact of Expensive Childcare
The UK is plagued by multiple economic problems and the exorbitant cost of early years childcare is sitting on top of the list. The average cost of full-time nursery education in Britain is about £14,000 a year. Now the average UK household income is about £32,000 per annum after taxes, so obtaining childcare for kids aged 2 to 3 on this income is akin to financial suicide. Not to mention the rising costs of just about everything that is needed for basic human survival.
More and more women are leaving the workforce to tend to their kids because paying for childcare from their earnings is a futile and exasperating effort. One Saturday in October 2022, angry and frustrated parents took to the streets to protest in what was called the “March of the Mummies”. About 15,000 people in 11 different locations joined the march and called for childcare reform, flexible working arrangements and parental leave. So far, the conservative Government hasn’t offered any solutions or demonstrated proactiveness in solving the crises.
Support Available for Children with Special Needs
According to the CDC “About 1 in 6 children between ages 3 to 17 will have one or more developmental disabilities.” Cerebral palsy is a developmental motor disability that affects movement and posture. It can be caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain. House Service App would to raise awareness of Cerebral Palsy Guide, a US based national support organization dedicated to educating individuals and their families about cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. Cerebral Palsy Guide has compiled the most in-depth resources nationwide to help guide and serve all families with disabilities caused by physical birth injuries. strive to provide answers and guidance to ensure that families receive the assistance they need to help improve their overall quality of life. Doctor reviewed, their material extends deep into cerebral palsy, with topics ranging from family support and treatment to counselling, wellness, PT, culture, inclusion, assistance, education, and more.
Affordable Childcare from the Tap of a Button
Given the current situation of things, parents are desperately seeking affordable yet quality childcare for their kids. The House Service App understands the severity of the situation and has provided a hub of home service childcare providers for a reasonable fee.
The App’s merchant service screens and vets service providers so you can trust their credibility. So if you are struggling to pay for childcare, why not try quality home or house service childcare at a reasonable price point? You can hire nannies and babysitters on the app who will tend to your kids from the comfort of your own home — without milking your pockets dry. Download the app and get started!
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