Wednesday, 10 February 2010

No such thing as wordless Wednesday where childcare costs are concerned

Seen this today? Of all the things that bug me - and there are plenty, just ask Other Half about my levels of tolerance for nervous tics - this one really gets under my skin.

To put things into perspective, all three of my children have been in nursery since an early age, on average from around 4 months' old. If you still need to ask why then I will spell it out: I work, I enjoy my job, and I like to be financially independent. Much as I love my children and they remain a priority in my life, I am not - nor ever was - a stay-at-home-mum. 

So, nursery it was for all three. A no brainer for both me and Other Half, and they are all well-adjusted, sociable and lovely children. But that is beside the point.

The point is that whilst this government has made endless claims about "free (early learning) entitlement for all 3 and 4 year olds", this only applies (and even then is severely limited) to local authorities, ie for those people who are already in receipt of benefits and need an additional incentive to return to the workforce. Or, as their own website succinctly puts it, if you are "a working parent, lone parent or a student you may be entitled to extra help with the costs of early learning and childcare."

Which means that for the average Joe who works full-time, pays taxes, NI and all the rest, there is a) no further incentive (outside of childcare vouchers, and even then I had to fight tooth and nail to get two former employers to participate in a scheme, despite the fact that it saves them money), and b) no tax break.

So you can claim for a chauffeur but not for childcare, the first being a 'nice-to-have', the latter an imperative in order to work and pay taxes in the first place. And now suddenly they are waking up to the fact that many of us are working merely to pay someone else to look after our kids. Just as well I enjoy my job then.

The best perspective on this? One I have undoubtedly mentioned before. When a former boss asked me what my childcare costs were and I told him, he said "Per term?". 
No, you fool. "Per month." And we were talking a number that did not start with 1 or 2 and was followed by three zeros. He was struck dumb.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Gordon Brown.


  1. That is just ridiculous! But then you're kind of asking for it by regularly voting in the Tories. (Ehm, what were you all planning to do?)

  2. Mwa - it's not so much a case of who is in government (Labour, Tories, much a muchness really, they all bleat about the same things), but more the fact that despite the 'discovery' about true childcare costs (like, WTF have you been doing for the last 12 years?), there is no tax credit whatsoever for working parents that can be used against childcare of ANY sort, be it nursery, childminder, nanny, parent or other family members.

    It is a ludicrous state of affairs and one that really gets my back up. I do not object to paying for childcare, I DO object to paying tax and then having that income taxed again with no reprise for the hard work that has gone into earning it in the first place. All just so the government can reap the rewards.

  3. It is ridiculous - only good thing about having a nanny is no extra charge for extra children

    I hate that there seems to be some kind of desire to keep women out of the workplace once they've had children, if they make it much harder I might finally have to give in ... gah


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