Thursday 21 May 2015

Reducing the cost of childcare by Isobel Hall

The following post is by Isobel Hall, who is a English Literature student at University and in her spare time Isobel likes to carry out some freelance work... 

She has currently written a couple of papers and I thought my readers would be interested in this one about Reducing The Cost of Childcare ..... If you would like to know more or read some more of her work you can email her here .... 

Reducing the cost of childcare
Childcare is expensive and it’s the most expensive element of having a child today with the average cost being £10,000 a year according to this baby cost calculator. With so many options available enabling you to reduce the cost, it’s time you were made aware of them all.

What are you entitled too?
First step is to find out what you could be entitled too as everyone is entitled to different allowances.
All parents are entitled to child benefit. For your eldest or only child you will receive £20.70 a week and for additional children you will receive £13.70 a week. Although, if you or your partner earn over £50,000 individually a year then you may have to pay a tax charge. Claiming child benefit can also help you gain national insurance credits which contribute towards your state pension and ensure that once your child reaches 16 they are provided with a national insurance number.
If you work more than 16 hours a week, claim working tax credits, or the childcare is either registered or approved you could be eligible for benefits such as childcare tax credits. For which your first child you are able to claim £122.50 per week and £210 per week for more than two children until they reach 16 oif they have a disability up to the age of 17. Be aware of the salary sacrifice scheme too where your employer offers tax free child care vouchers deducted from your wages, do some research on this as there is a lot to find out, and this scheme cannot be used in conjunction with childcare tax credits.
All 3-4 year olds (and some 2 year olds depending on your income) are entitled to 570 hours of free early education or childcare per year. Childcare that is eligible are nurseries and nursery classes, play groups and pre-schools, childminders and sure start children’s centres.  
You have the right to ask for flexible working hours which could allow you and your partner to adjust your hours in the week through either part time work, flexi time, working term time only, working from home or job sharing. So have a chat with your manager and see what they can provide. 
All these different avenues to explore are sure to give you a helping hand in affording and reducing the cost of your childcare bill. 

Types of childcare to consider
Nurseries: Nursery’s which are often inspected by Ofsted cater for children from birth to five years. They are often open from 8am-6pm and open in term time too. Nurseries are expensive as you’re paying for a fixed amount of hours but you are rewarded with consistent reliable service which introduces your child to a routine which helps them to adapt better to school when they start.
Childminders: Childminders are a little cheaper plus a lot more flexible but also Ofsted approved. This service enables your child to be looked after in the comfort of your own home, this could help to mirror family life. As a childminder on their own can provide care for up to six children at a time, if your child is an only child it could help provide a play mate and a strong bond between children that could last for years.
Nannies: A nanny for one child is extremely expensive and there are definitely cheaper options but if you have more than one child it could be worthwhile. You could also reduce the cost of the nanny if you share with friends or neighbours which will also provide another great play mate for your child. 

Other ways to reduce costs
Share childcare with friends by looking after each other’s children when possible. This works especially well if you and a friend work part time, you could potentially split the week so childcare is sorted for both of you  and your children have someone to constantly play with which they are sure to love.Also, if you only need childcare for an hour or so it may be practical to rely on friends or neighbours and create a babysitting circle run by tokens. For every hour somebody looks after your child before midnight you give them a token, 2 tokens per hour after midnight and you’re able to regain these if you look after their children.
Ask a relative if they are happy to help out even if it’s as much as once a week to as little as once a month, it will reduce the cost of your childcare by a fair amount and you can rest assure that they are being loved and cared for by a supportive relative. 

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