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The next thing to worry about from Brexit - no au pairs? Butlers, valets, and house servants are all under threat; Butlers, valets, and house servants are all under threat.

Byline: Patrick Jack

As Brexit gets ever closer, the list of things people are panicking over gets ever longer.

Recently we've been warned about people stockpiling food, roaming charges in Europe being re-introduced and passports not being accepted at borders but there's a new worry for some mothers.

Posting on the popular forum mumsnet, one parent was worried about the future of au pairs in the UK to look after her children.

A user called Dontblameitontheboogie said: "I was struck that not a single poster pointed out that it's far from certain au-pairs will be able to arrive or even stay after 29 March!?!"

It turns out that this mum was not alone.

A social media campaign has been set up to 'Save Au Pairs' and a petition has been signed by more than 22,000 people.

The group want a special Au Pair Visa to be created, as an extension of the current Youth Mobility Visa, to preserve the practice after Brexit.

Rebecca Haworth-Wood, Chair of British Au Pair Agencies Association (BAPAA), said that despite repeated attempts to get a response from Government, the industry was still "none the wiser".

They understand that if there is a deal there would be a transition period in place until the end of 2020 but this has not been confirmed in black and white.

If there is not a deal reached in time, there would be no transition period and the organisation has received little advice on what would happen next.

She said: "As of March 29 it will be anybody's guess. They have said that young Europeans can come here for 3 months but then will have to apply for more formal guidance.

"We are all waiting for somebody to make a decision."

A concrete figure is hard to determine but industry figures suggest around 40,000 Au pairs come to the UK every year.

She said that with the current uncertainty, many young Europeans will instead opt to travel to Australia, Canada or another country that offers a more reliable alternative.

"Thousands of people will not have Au Pairs to help them support their work-life balance," she added.

The group's petition says: "Europe's oldest, simplest and most effective cultural exchange programme between the UK and EU countries could simply come to a halt.

"It would also be a catastrophe for thousands of hard working families, as they struggle to adjust their work and living arrangements, and a hit on the productivity of UK."

Not everyone on the mumsnet website was as sympathetic to the cause, with some complaining that there are slightly bigger concerns in the coming weeks and months.

One said: "To be honest, this is the least of my worries."

Another sarcastically added: "Not just au-pairs. Butlers, valets, and house servants are all under threat. Oh, the humanity."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Our future immigration system will support the UK economy to access the skills it needs after the UK leaves the EU.

"As part of this, we plan to introduce a temporary short-term workers route to provide labour for a transitional period while our economy adapts.

"The new immigration system will be implemented from 2021 following an extensive 12-month programme of engagement with businesses and stakeholders."


Credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

There are an estimated 40,000 au pairs every year in the UK

Credit: Save Au Pairs

There is a Facebook and Twitter page for the campaign
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Publication:The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 6, 2019
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