It is typical to hear people around the world say that childcare can be difficult to find and costly. Affordable child care is one of the main priorities for many working parents. And with a large number of overseas doctors relocating with their families, child care is a big issue.
The good news in the UK is that you can get help finding and paying for childcare.
Even better, if you work for the NHS, then you are entitled to additional support through the Tax-free childcare scheme.
How much does childcare cost?
The average cost of sending a child under 2 years of age to nursery is:
Part time - £125 per week
Full time - £240 per week
The average cost of an after-school club for one working week is £60.
Playgroups or pre-school groups (usually organised by the school or nursery directly), typically cost £2 - £10 per session. Sessions are normally two – three hours before and after standard working hours.
A registered childminder could cost on average £250 per week full time, and £150 per week part time (costs will be slightly higher in London).
If you have read our articles on schooling, you will remember that nursery schools, if provided by the state, are free for all children.
There is help you can get with childcare costs, for example with tax free childcare you can get up to £2,000.
Help is provided if you select childcare run by an approved childcare provider, such as:
registered childminder, playscheme, nursery or club
childminder with an Ofsted-registered childminding agency
home care worker working for a registered home care agency
Try this useful tool for checking what childcare can be made available for you.
Tax free childcare scheme:
A scheme is in place aimed at helping reduce the cost of childcare for NHS employees.
The scheme is administered through online accounts, opened by parents on the get-tax-free-childcare website. Parents pay money into the account, which is used to pay for childcare with registered providers.
Parents can pay money into their childcare account as and when they like, and for every £8 paid in, the government will add £2, up to a maximum of £2,000 government support per child, per year (£4,000 for children with disabilities).
The scheme is open to parents of children up to and including the age of 11 (16 for children with disabilities).
What else is available?
Some employers offer additional support to families, giving that little bit extra to make the work life balance more sustainable. Extra help could include workplace nurseries, directly contracted childcare, advice services and community groups.
Checking childcare providers:
It is important to check that the provider you wish to use is suitable for your child, working to high standards, and approved for use under the tax-free scheme.
You can check if a childcare provider is approved or search for one using the following websites:
You can get help paying for childcare provided by a school, for example nursery school fees. State schools are free, so when it comes to childcare you can only get help paying for care that is outside school hours, for example after school clubs or breakfast clubs
Steps to follow:
If you want to check how much support you can receive and how to find the right provider, follow these steps:
Advice and support is provided by the government, local councils and education organisations. We advise you to speak with your IMG consultant, who can help you establish where to start, answer any questions you may have and point you in the right direction to getting the best start for your children in the UK.
You will also find that parents in the UK, as well as staff in the NHS and education system, will be keen to support and help you with advice. The parental community in the UK is strong and supportive, with networks of like-minded families sharing experiences and contacts.