A mile separates Lullabys and Little Ann day nurseries in South Norwood – yet one charges nearly £300 more than the other to look after a child.Well, that’s London for you. Hugely expensive places sitting cheek-by-jowl with the most rundown slums. These sort of price differentials are, therefore, hardly surprising…
Pockets of South Norwood are in the ten per cent most deprived areas in the country. According to official statistics, one in three children in the ward live in poverty and more than 700 people are out of work.
Against this backdrop, Lullabys, in Ross Road, charges parents £875 a month for full-time childcare for a two-year-old. This does not include a £25 registration fee for, effectively, filling in a few forms.Complaining about the registration fee seems pointless – many service organisations charge such a fee.
And if ‘a few forms’ need to be filled in, it’s no surprise, given the plethora of council and central government regulations and registration bodies these services now need to comply with, mostly driven (of course!) by media campaigns, where they are not directed by the EU.
Operations manager Theresa Staunton believes comparing prices is unfair. She said: "Before parents decide where their child should go, they should visit nurseries and see what they are getting for their money.
"Most of the nurseries that charge less aren't as good. Given the amount they are charging, they couldn't be.
"We provide high end, high quality childcare, and there are huge costs associated with that. "Because people are willing to pay them. So, why is this a problem?
Our sample also shows that high prices are not confined to the affluent areas of the borough, with nurseries in Thornton Heath, Selhurst and South Norwood asking for more than £850 per month.Ah. Once again, it’s that ‘inequality’ business, I suppose?
Seriously, of all the things for a Croydon local newspaper to run a campaign about, this is the best they could find?
Of the 30 nurseries surveyed by the Advertiser, the cheapest was Little Ann, based in St Albans Church Hall in Whitehorse Lane. Little Ann charges parents £600 a month, at least £200 cheaper than three other nurseries in the area.
Manager Malarrosa Murugaiah recently dropped her fees by £50 after several parents could not afford to pay their monthly bill. Unlike some of her rivals, she doesn't believe that price dictates quality.Well, she wouldn’t, would she?
"Yes we're a business but we must also consider what is best for the parents," said Mrs Murugaiah.
"People who live here have very little money. I know there are nurseries which ask for £800 or even £900 a month, but if I charged that much, we wouldn't have any children."And yet, others do, and seem to be well-subscribed. Strange, that…
Some of the most affordable childcare can be found in New Addington, yet it is still out of the price range of parents like Lisa Booth.
"I have looked at childcare but as a low income family we can't afford it, even with government help," she said.
"My son starts school this month, and I will use that time to find work, but I don't know what I will do in the holidays, as I feel like I can't leave a child with friends or family because they aren't registered minders."The Statist brainwashing is working, then? I mean, twenty years ago no-one would have thought twice about leaving their child with relatives or non-working friends – I myself was looked after by my grandmother while my mother went to work, and it was so unremarkable an arrangement that most of my classmates were in a similar position.
But now, it’s regarded as odd, strange, something to be remarked on and considered an inferior arrangement to paying over huge sums of money to a total stranger with a fancy logo and a paper certificate!
But Mrs Myatt fears she will have to raise charges when work place pension reform is introduced next month.
She said: "If you think that wages are at least 50 per cent of our outgoings and now we have to find an extra five per cent, that's a significant sum of money."So…how will Mrs Murugaiah cope? I wonder…