Brexit immigration restrictions look set to force the closure of an once-thriving au pair business unless they are relaxed, according to its Bolton owner.
Carole Payne has been running the Nanny and Au Pair Connection, from Chorley New Road, Horwich for 34 years but says unless urgent action is taken soon it will be curtains for her company.
She says that from January 1 the UK immigration authority has not granted visas for au pairs.
“My agency may come to an end through no fault of my own,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking as I am too young to retire.”
She said that around eight agencies elsewhere in the UK had ceased trading. Colleges where au pairs attend classes are also affected.
Carole continued: “I myself was an au pair in Paris in 1969 and I speak fluent French.
“It is an excellent way to study a language as the au pair lives in with the host family.
“They do 25 hours child care for £100 per week, plus food and lodging.”
She says they are basically ‘babysitters’, and – as they live in – are excellent for key workers such as doctors, police, single parents and others who work awkward shift patterns.
Before the pandemic in 2019, when the UK was still part of the European Union, Carole’s company placed 60 au pairs in around the UK.
Carole added: “The phone is non stop with families needing childcare and I can’t help.
“The Home Office think that unemployed British people will do this, but Carole has advertised their vacancies and has received no takers.
“I have written to Cabinet Ministers, MPs and received no replies as no one really understands.
“I have asked all my clients to write to their MPs. I have written to (Home Secretary) Pritti Patel and (Parliamentary Under-Secretary) Kevin Foster and they are not for moving.”
Carole has been campaigning in tandem with Beryl Glass at the Leeds-based International Helping Hands Agency for a relaxation of the regulations.
Beryl said: “We desperately need to allow young people from the EU to enter the UK, to help not only our hardworking and essential workforce, but also to boost the economy, as everything they earn goes back into our economy.”
A Home Office spokesperson 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.”