Peter Foster
Sat Feb 06 07:51:16 +0000 2021

🚨🇪🇺🇬🇧🤔🤔🤔🇪🇺🇬🇧🚨NEW: post #brexit immigration rules are shaping up to kill the au pair industry - on which 45,000 working families depend for affordable childcare. Seems mad. Stay with me. /1

First, what is an 'au pair' - sometimes assumed to be childcare for posh folk - but actually its really a childcare solution for doctors, police, nurses, single parents who have jobs that need reliable, affordable, full-time childcare. The can't afford nannies at £2k/pcm /2

So they an 'au pair', which is a kind of cultural exchange. A young person (90%+ from EU/EEA) aged 18-26 comes to live in your house, they get contribution to English lessons, board and lodging and £100/week 'pocket money' in exchange for 25 hours childcare - it works /3

But now, with Free Movement ended, the Home Office has listed au pairs as a "skilled occupation" (code 61220 with minimum new entrant salary threshold of £20,480, requirement for sponsorship etc. That's a totally different ballgame /4

This, says Au Pair Agencies association boss Jamie Shackell, @BAPAA_Chair, is totally inappropriate as au pairs aren't skilled in that sense.

And if the Home Office "doesn’t provide a simpler visa route for au pairs, then the programme will be lost". /5

@BAPAA_Chair So what does the Home Office say? Not much.

According to a letter sent to Ms Shackell they confirmed there will not be a 'dedicated route' for au pairs and they could use 'other routes' - either hiring British or using the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS). Lets take each in turn. /6

@BAPAA_Chair First English labour/jobless post Covid-19? Well, truth is BAPAA have tried to recruit local and failed. English kids, not surprisingly, don't want to go live in someone's house for £100/week and look after their kids. I wouldn't - but that's the point! /7

@BAPAA_Chair As a young person I wouldn't have wanted to go to Edinburgh or London to au pair - but I might well have wanted to go to Barcelona, Rome or Paris or Berlin as a way of learning language/having cultural exchange /8

@BAPAA_Chair What about Youth Mobility Scheme? That's for 18-30 year olds from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan
Monaco, New Zealand, Korea, San Marino & Taiwan and currently attracts 20,000 a year - all of whom get 2-year work visas. Again. Not suitable /9

@BAPAA_Chair As Ms Shackell says, why would those on YMS who get two-year work visa anywhere want to work as an au pair at £100/week? The wouldn't - and don't - about 1% so far take 'au pair' jobs. /9

@BAPAA_Chair Kevin Foster the immigration minister says that au pair families should offer a more "attractive" package to get YMS visa holders to do the job - see statement - but the industry has zero confidence that works. /10

@BAPAA_Chair The Home Office approach is not surprising, but on inspection it really makes no sense.

Au pairs fill an important hole for working families, often keyworkers and professionals who really couldn't survive without them - why destroy that scheme? /11

@BAPAA_Chair There's an ideological demand to end Free Movement and treating everyone the same - but the EU is NOT the same as Canada or New Zeland because it's on our doorstep. Why an au pair can come and go for six months, see family once or twice. Proximity does make a difference/12

@BAPAA_Chair Mr Foster does hold a 'chink' of light by saying that he'll consider a YMS scheme with EU countries on a reciprocal basis, but that isn't going to happen any time soon on my reading of current EU-UK relations, the need for equal treatment etc. Though hope that's wrong/13

@BAPAA_Chair Ironically one of the families I spoke to for that piece is a single-parent (Mark Lilley, from Chingford) voted #Brexit but told me he had no intention of excluding those coming to UK to provide useful service. /14

@BAPAA_Chair His story below is typical. Spanish au pair, she was doing masters, learned English, taugh some Spanish to Mark's daughter, helped with childcare, hung out with friends at weekend - it worked for everyone. He can't afford £2k/month for a nanny. /15

@BAPAA_Chair Or Oli Long, an NHS consultant who is married to another consultant - they use au pairs because nature of job means they're on-call, sometimes get stuck in emergencies etc. A live-in solution is really what they need - and again, the cultural exchange is good for everyone/16

@BAPAA_Chair All this makes me despair - #Brexit will just continue to retard relations with the EU on a personal/cultural level, it's inevitable.

There were attempt to negotiate special arrangements for students and young people under the TCA, but it all got stuck. /17

@BAPAA_Chair The UK determination to have no mobility chapter - so attempts to make arrangements for researchers, pensioners also foundered - means that the barriers continue to go up, even at the expense of working UK families. /18

@BAPAA_Chair Ms Shackell says there cd be a 'fix' if Au Pair agencies could act as sponsors and salary could be calculated pro-rata etc and that coudl get au pairs to £180/week - which is nearly double but better than nowt. Better would be to reinstate Au Pair Visa that existed til 2008 /19

@BAPAA_Chair But I don't see much appetite looking at the comms from the Home Office.

Which is said, since you'd think 'au pairs' would be Tory street - allowing qualified, middle-class folk to work harder. I find it all rather baffling.

Good weekend all. ENDS

Sat Feb 06 08:36:29 +0000 2021