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As every British parent knows, childcare is extremely expensive. In fact, the UK has among the most expensive childcare in the world. When I tell people without children how much it's likely to cost to have their children looked after well, you can see the shock dawn on their faces - and their plans for a family shrinking before your eyes, not to mention their career plans changing.
It's not just a London challenge, either. While some kinds of childcare such as nursery and childminder can be much cheaper outside London, other forms of childcare such as nannies can actually be more expensive -- since most nannies, visiting from European countries, want to live in London.
Given this, are there any ways for UK parents to save on the cost of childcare?
Luckily, yes. Whether you're a high or a low earner, considering nanny, nursery or childminder, there's a cost saving tactic for you that you should explore.
Here are our favourite four.
This is a new system of childcare saving which replaces the old 'childcare vouchers'. It'll be available to all working parents from the end of 2017. You can get up to 20 per cent of your annual childcare costs paid, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child, or £4,000 if the child is disabled. There are some exclusions if you earn a lot (over £100,000) or a little (under £115/week) but for most working people, this will be helpful.
This was a big deal in the last election, with both Labour and the Conservatives fighting to offer the best childcare headline. 30 hours a week of free childcare for every child in Britain over three years old sounds great, doesn't it?
Unfortunately the reality is that a lot of providers are going to struggle to afford to provide the hours free (as they're not fully compensated by the government). It's up to them whether they do or not, so no parent should count on it. If you're interested in taking up the 30 hours of free childcare offer, you should contact the nursery you're considering and ask whether they'll be taking part in the scheme.
It's not exactly 'cheap', but it is great value. While a sole nanny costs a bomb (£37,000 for full time in central London on average), having the nanny look after children from two families at once means that each family saves about a third of the cost, while the nanny gets paid about 25 per cent more.
Nanny sharing has really taken off in recent years, with websites such as Koru Kids helping facilitate the process. In most cases nanny share will be more expensive than nursery or childminder, but it'll be a lot cheaper than a nanny. Parents choose this option because it can be much more practical for those who work long hours, have a commute, or want to avoid the problems of sickness that come with nursery.
Many families will be eligible for help with childcare in the form of tax credits. If you're a lower or middle earner it's worth investigating, as the average payout is over £3,000 per year. The formula for seeing if you're entitled is very complicated, and the best thing to do is call the government’s tax credit helpline on 0345 300 3900. Ask about ‘Childcare element of Working Tax Credits’.
The years when parents are juggling childcare, paying for care and maintaining their jobs, are some of the most joyful but also the most stressful. Most UK parents are short of sleep, money, and time. These tips aren't going to completely remove the pain of childcare cost, but we hope they might ease it considerably.
This article was provided by www.korukids.co.uk.