THE owner of an au pair business in Bolton has warned that families will struggle to find childcare as Brexit impacts EU nationals completing au pair placements.

Carole Payne operates Nanny and Au Pair Connection in Chorley New Road, Horwich, and places au pairs across the borough, and in Manchester and London.

Having run the business for nearly 35 years, she has many clients who depend on childcare an au pair can offer. As they live with the family, they can provide care for professionals who may need to leave early or work late.

Free movement between the EU and the UK ended on December 31. Au pairs who arrived prior to January 1 can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. After this date au pairs can apply for a youth mobility scheme visa, which only applies to certain countries.

Carole said: “It’s becoming very difficult and we are struggling to get enough au pairs.

“Under the youth mobility scheme, au pairs will have to prove they have £2,530 in the bank in order to get the visa, which is incredibly expensive.

“There’s a huge demand for childcare, particularly among professionals such as doctors and nurses or single parents who need childcare from early in the morning. I’ve advertised for British live-in nannies and mother’s helps but nobody wants to do this job.

“I myself was an au-pair in Paris and I absolutely loved it, I was able to learn the language and learn about the culture while working.

“We’ve got hundreds of people who want to have an au pair, and I want to be able to help them. I’ve urged them to all write to their MPs.”

Carole has been working to try and change the regulations.

She added: “It’s heart-breaking as this is such a lost opportunity for young people, and a service families need in this country. I aim to keep battling on, the Government may do a U-turn as they have with the fruit pickers.

“In 2020, 45,000 au pairs came into the UK. Once they have done their exams in June will be going home and leaving many thousands of families without childcare.

“The colleges will also suffer, something which has not been considered.

“Au pairs are not immigrants, they get pocket money from the family for babysitting duties, they spend the money in the UK so adding to the British Economy and they have private healthcare.

“I don’t see why a designated au pair visa cannot be found as this is a childcare crisis.”

A Home Office spokesman said:“Our new points-based immigration system is already attracting the best and brightest talent from around the world.

“There are a number of ways in which au pairs can work in the UK. Those from Europe who are already here can join the millions who have secured their rights through the EU Settlement Scheme.

“For those from around the world wishing to come to the UK, the generous youth mobility scheme welcomes approximately 20,000 migrants a year, with capacity within existing quotas for approximately 15,000 more migrants.”

The Home Office clarified that the UK’s immigration system will not offer a dedicated visa route for au pairs and foreign language assistants, as has been the case since 2008.