Why is British childcare so expensive?

Because we\’ve stricter regulations than everyone else.

Childminders and nurseries will be able to double the number of children they look after under radical plans to cut care bills for working families.

Ministers are considering a move to copy French childcare rules where each member of staff can look after up to eight children. In England the limit is just four toddlers.


It\’s pretty damn simple isn\’t it? Impose regulations that make child care more expensive and child care will be more expensive, won\’t it?

But here\’s a radical idea. Why not just remove the regulations altogether? Allow parents to decide themselves how many of their darlin\’ ickle snotdribblers they want somone, of whatever qualification level they desire, to be looking after?

You know, this idea that government can fuck off out of large parts of life thing?

20 thoughts on “Why is British childcare so expensive?”

  1. Not needed, the government have a better idea.
    Use taxpayers money to subsidise working mothers. So they can pay the high costs of childcare. Which will increase demand for childcare. Which will push up the costs of childcare. Which will require even more taxpayer subsidy. Which will … etc etc.
    Oh wait, that’s a really really dumb idea isn’t it.

  2. But, but, but, but for God’s sake think of the children!!!

    The regulations were put in place to protect the kids from Jimmy Savile. Without them, every single child in childcare would be raped, be skinned, be rolled in a bag of salt, burned alive and their bodies used in a sacrifice at the altar of capitalism.

  3. Allow parents to decide…

    No! Don’t you understand that the entire point of almost every government policy since the second world war has been not to allow parents (or indeed anyone) to decide if they can possibly avoid it?

  4. Nasty sexist idea I know- but with literally millions unable to find a job, wouldn’t it be an idea if men went out to work and mothers looked after their own children- with aid from family and neighbours? And if the mothers actually married the fathers then each would have an income.
    I know it sounds absolutely crazy, and its hardly been tried, but maybe its worth a giving a go?

  5. Amazingly enough this (let the parents decide) was how it worked up till only about twenty years ago.

    It’s astonishing how quickly we have allowed ourselves to become enslaved.

    Oh, and what Pat said.

  6. Pat

    Leaving aside the nasty sexism (and it’s only sexism if you really think that it should always be the woman at home… if, rather, your view is just that one parent should be the carer and the otehr get a job.. and you’re OK with the parents deciding who does what by reference to more than their genitals, then there’s nothing sexist about it).

    … No. If both parents have a skillset which means that they contribute more to humanity by doing something other than childcare, then we want them to do that other thing… and subcontract the childcare to someone else. If two brilliant physicists have child then we’d probably like them to carry on being brilliant physicists. We can’t take one of the unemployed people and engage him/her as a brilliant physicist.. but we *can* give one of them a job in a creche.

  7. Tim,

    “Why not just remove the regulations altogether?”

    As someone who has a two year old in nursery and whose childcare costs consume approximately 35% of their net income, I would not be at all keen on any form of regulation being removed from that sector, in fact the more heavily it is regulated the better. For some commentors to glibly shout ‘Think of the kiddies!’ is all fun and all that, but when I say I’m in favour of more regulation I’m thinking of mine. I’ll tell you why.

    Oxonymous wrote,

    “The regulations were put in place to protect the kids from Jimmy Savile. Without them, every single child in childcare would be raped, be skinned, be rolled in a bag of salt, burned alive and their bodies used in a sacrifice at the altar of capitalism.”

    In the west of Scotland, a paedophile actually got a job in a nursery. It was a local authority nursery, but they have do the same checks to the same standards as the private ones. His name is Alexander Mortimer. A sly bugger, as they all are, he didn’t lay a finger on the children he was paid to look after. Instead, he molested the children of a colleague who had entrusted them to his care. He molested these children many times over a period of three years, and when caught he was found to have over 17,000 indecent images of children in his possession. Although it’s probably true that no amount of regulation would ever have prevented him from committing his crimes, I for one am really keen on as much regulation as possible being in place over this sector to minimise the risk of someone like that coming into contact with my child.

  8. As government regulation raises prices, lowers quality, and reduces quantity, an increase in it would see your child far more likely to come into contact with someone you’d rather they didn’t.

    (But I’d imagine the odds are miniscule either way, it’s just a useful emotional issue for the parasites to strengthen their grasp over us.)

  9. So, Martin, your argument is that we need all this regulation because all this regulation failed to stop a paedophile?

  10. @Martin:

    But if I want to give my child (a very, very hypothetical child) over to the care of someone who hasn’t hired a PI to investigate and record the late fifty years of the lives of all their staff, then that’s my business.

    If you don’t, if you want your child-care to be CRB checked to the nines, employ only pre-pubescent girls so there can’t be any peddofiles, then you pay the extra money. Don’t force me to fucking subsidise it.

  11. While the chances of a paedophile trying to get a job at a (highly regulated) nursery might be fairly high, the chances that your next door neighbour but one (who fancies moonlighting with a bit of child-minding) is a paedophile are approximately zero.

  12. Unless Martin is a single parent, it is obvious he cares deeply about childcare because he is willing to actually reduce net disposable income. 35% of joint net income is at least 70% of the lower-paid parent’s net income and clawback of tax credit at 41% of marginal gross income (28% of marginal net income) plus non-tax-deductible travel-to-work costs plus other non-deductible work-related costs plus higher food costs if you don’t have time to cook properly on working days etc. wipes out any financial gain [I know that we don’t pay income tax on the first £8k or NI on the first £5k but travel-to-work costs round here are more than the £2.2k that gives one].
    So, yes, he should be allowed to pay through the nose if he wants to but if my wife chooses to stay at home to look after our kids (because she thinks it’s the right thing to do, not because she enjoyed it) why should she subsidise him?

  13. Monoi
    A bit of background on this case (I may be misremembering, it’s pretty old).
    The creche madam (if you call them that) was first done by the taxman for travail dissimulé, i.e. working without a licence. The taxman estimated or invented the figure of 25 kids in a two bedroom apartment and tried to tax her on it. Only then did social services get on the case. No parent (paying about £15 for a whole day’s childcare) denounced this white slaver to the police.

    Bad cases make bad law.

  14. John77: When did Martin ask for a subsidy?

    Oxonymous: I’d find your intolerance of child-minding regulations more convincing if your child were less hypothetical.

    It’s not realistic to suppose that if the sector were unregulated, childminding agencies would arise with every level of scrutiny in their selection of staff, allowing parents to make a considered choice of how much they’re prepared to pay for reduced risk. Because in practice parents would be unable to determine the levels of scrutiny.

  15. Yes, if we didn’t have people who know better telling us what to do, then us normal folk’d get into a real mess.

    Maybe it’d be better if the smart people completely took over childcare as they did with education. After all, not ALL the supermarkets are having to give new recruits a basic education (well, not yet anyway). And let’s face it, twelve years of school – doing something you hate and can clearly see is of little relevance to the real world – probably isn’t quite enough to get the basics down.

    Just imagine what it’d be like if left to the free market!!

  16. @ PaulB
    There has been a subsidy for childcare since before Martin’s two-year-old was born.
    Both your points are valid and I was not intending to mention the subsidy until I had typed two-thirds of my post and I thought “this whinger is being subsidised by us workers who have unquestioningly accepted the costs of caring for our kids until the younger left school”
    However I should qualify your last point with the observation that before regulation there *were* both amateur child-care networks where friends took turns to look after each other kids (or, more often, mothers just put up with looking after friends of their kids with the hope that the other mothers would do likewise) and paid-for ones which split into those where the payer knew everyone involved or was given sureties and those where the payer assumed it was OK, as with modern certified child-care businesses.

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