Owning Your Own Childcare Business

February 26, 2016 | Leave a Comment

The story of working mum, Philippa Day, who runs her own successful childcare business, Harmony at Home Berkshire.

Creating your own business can be tough, especially during the early start-up phase. Recent figures suggest that around 50% of new businesses in the UK fail within the first five years—and, those that succeed, can often take years to become profitable. This makes starting your own business a daunting prospect for most parents—especially busy mums. However, there is an alternative to starting your business from scratch.

Philippa Day

Philippa Day

Philippa Day, mother of two, was a professional Nanny for twenty years, with work experience in the UK and overseas. But, when her own children started school, in 2012, her dream was to be her own boss. After considerable research on the subject, Philippa decided to purchase the Berkshire Division of the International Nanny Agency Harmony at Home in 2014—and she hasn’t looked back since! After recovering her initial investment within four months, Philippa now has a turnover that exceeds all expectations. It’s taken a great deal of passion and a tremendous amount of hard work, but the benefits of a ready-made business have been enormous—both financially as well as for balancing the often conflicting demands of work and family life.

“As far as businesses in a box go, this couldn’t be better,” says Philippa Day.

To hear more about Philippa’s story, please watch her video on You Tube.

For further information on owning your own franchise, please see the Harmony at Home Website.

NannyTax Annual Wage Survey 2015

February 19, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Revealing Nanny Employment trends across the U.K.

The results of the NannyTax Annual Wage Survey have just been published for 2015. This is the most comprehensive and up-to-date study of its kind in the UK, and is based on data collected from 423 nannies, 771 nanny employers, and 62 nanny agencies—including Harmony at Home.

2015 has been a mixed year for nannies in the UK, with some winners and a few losers. Live-in nannies in Central London have been notable losers, experiencing a 2.56% dip in salary compared to 2014. However, outside London, average live-in nanny salaries have increased by 11.51%. In the case of live-out nannies, the salary trends have run in an almost completely opposite direction: with a steep rise in income in London and the Home Countries, and a dip of 3.46% throughout the rest of the UK.  The area of greatest demand is for part time and After School nannies, resulting in a shorter average working week for live-out nannies compared to their live-in counterparts. Unsurprisingly, London tops the table for the highest paid nannies in the country, with live-out nannies earning on average £35k gross salary per year. On the downside, live-in nannies in London also work the longest hours, with an average working week of 48 hours.

Compared to 2014, there has been a significant increase in awareness, among nannies and employers, of the auto enrolment scheme for workplace pensions. By the end of 2017, all nanny employers will have to make pension schemes available to their employees, irrespective of whether they qualify for auto enrolment.

As with previous years, there was a large amount of confusion among nannies regarding their salary agreements. The majority of nanny employers prefer to negotiate salary based on gross income, whereas a significant proportion of nannies prefer to negotiate on net income. In 2015, this resulted in staggering 22% of nannies who were unaware of the nature of their agreements—i.e. gross or net! The vast majority of this confusion (83%) was among inexperienced nannies who were recruited directly by employers, rather than through an agency. At Harmony at Home we recommend that all nannies should negotiate salary based on gross income.

After a slow, but steady decline in voluntary registration with OFSTED, 2015 has seen a slight increase among nannies—up to 68.3%, compared to 64.4% in 2014. With the introduction of the Tax Free Childcare scheme in 2017, we predict that the demand for OFSTED-registered nannies is likely to increase (Childcare vouchers vs tax-free childcare). Nevertheless, current demand for OFSTED-registered nannies, among agency clients, was down 16% on 2014—with only 50% of clients expressing a preference for registration.

To see the full NannyTax report, please use the following link: NannyTax Annual Wages Survey Report

Rob Hodgkison, Harmony at Home Ltd. All Rights Reserved, 2016

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February 19, 2016 | Leave a Comment

17th February 2016


Farnham resident, Emma Kay, 32, has become the Surrey owner of internationally renowned childcare agency, Harmony at Home.

Emma began her career as a nursery nurse before heading to ski resort Belle Plange, France, and quickly ascending to the role of Head of Childcare at Godalming-based family ski holiday specialist, Esprit.

Rising to yet another challenge in 2016, Emma has now purchased the Surrey Franchise for Harmony at Home, a childcare agency set up by former Norland nanny, Frankie Gray, in 2004, and has committed to offering world-class childcare to the Surrey community as part of the Harmony at Home umbrella.

Emma Kay (right) who aims to establish Harmony at Home as the heart of childcare in Surrey with the brand's founder Frankie Gray (left)

Emma Kay (right) who aims to establish Harmony at Home as the heart of childcare in Surrey with the brand’s founder Frankie Gray (left)

Specialising in a wide spectrum of services including household staff, nannying, nursery staff and au pair recruitment through to childcare consultancy, babysitting and first aid training, Emma will now be responsible for ensuring that Harmony at Home’s rigorous childcare standards are met throughout the county.

On her latest venture Emma comments: “I’m absolutely delighted to be heading up the Surrey arm of Harmony at Home and to be able to bring my wealth of experience to the role of ensuring that Surrey parents are effectively partnered with first-class nannies. I now look forward to working with parents and childcare experts across Surrey in 2016 and beyond and establishing Harmony at Home as the heart of childcare in Surrey.”

Esprit Holidays’ CEO and Emma’s former boss, Andy Perrin, says: “As the UK’s leading family skiing company, Esprit has over 230 qualified nannies and child carers across the Alps every winter, and Emma led this entire team for us brilliantly throughout the last eight years. Knowing her unwavering commitment, dedication and passion for great child care, we have no doubt that Surrey families will take Emma to their hearts, and all our team here wish her every success in this exciting new venture.”

On welcoming Emma to the business, Frankie, from West Sussex, adds: “Emma is a determined and driven person with an impressive and experienced approach to childcare. Surrey is a large county with a growing childcare market and I’m confident that under Emma’s leadership, Harmony at Home will not only play a key role in delivering outstanding childcare throughout the county but also set a new benchmark when it comes to what constitutes quality childcare in the region.”

For more information on the services offered by Harmony at Home in Surrey contact Emma on 01252 820313 or email For more information visit


Notes to editors

Media enquiries
For more information please contact Stuart Pearson at The PR Farm on 01483 892301 / 07812 086211 or at

About Harmony at Home
Harmony at Home is a premier nanny and childcare agency. Founded by Norland-trained nanny and mother, Frankie Gray, it has been providing high quality childcare services for parents in London, the UK and internationally since 2004.

From nannies and maternity nurses to more specialised help, such as the mobile crèche and parent consultancy, Harmony at Home provides the right childcare for families, whatever their requirements.

Harmony at Home understands the importance and peace of mind that comes with parents knowing that their children are happy and secure. That’s why it always takes time to carefully match a nanny or child carer who is the perfect fit for the family.

Is Sugar Safe?

February 12, 2016 | Leave a Comment

A taxing question for parents and childcare workers!

Non-infectious diseases (such as heart disease and cancer) have recently surpassed transmittable diseases to become the greatest threat to human health; contributing to around 35 million deaths per year1. However, in contrast to many infectious diseases (such as malaria and tuberculosis), heart disease and cancer are truly global in their extent, affecting both developed and developing nations around the world. They are also strongly influenced by people’s lifestyle choices.

Cigarettes and alcohol have long been recognised as two lifestyle risk factors that contribute to the development of non-communicable diseases. For this reason, the consumption of tobacco and alcohol is regulated throughout much of the world. However, there is a third lifestyle risk factor, in the form of diet, that is still completely unregulated. Evidence for this dietary threat can be seen throughout the world, with rising rates of obesity—most worryingly among children. However, there is a common misconception that obesity is the cause of many non-communicable diseases. Instead, the truth is more alarming: obesity is just one of a whole range of symptoms associated with a much greater health risk, known as the metabolic syndrome. Indeed, 40% of people, of normal body mass, will still develop the same diseases usually associated with obesity, as a result of non-contagious metabolic dysfunction—including: diabetes, hypertension, lipid problems, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cancer and dementia1. Thus, the health problems associated with diet are on a much larger scale than the obesity crisis would appear to suggest. But, which part of the human diet poses the greatest risk to health?

As soon as the obesity crisis came to light, researchers and public health officials went searching for a smoking gun, and fixed their focus firmly on fats. Saturated fats, typically associated with a fast-food Western diet, were particularly targeted and, as a result, we were all told to avoid them.  But, now it’s increasingly apparent that they had the wrong guy: the real bogeyman in this saga is sugar! Indeed, there is a growing body of evidence that sugar, in excessive doses, has a similar toxicity to alcohol; resulting in very similar symptoms. The scientists don’t mince their words:

“A little [sugar] is not a problem, but a lot kills — slowly.” Robert H. Lustig, Department of Pediatrics and the Center for Obesity Assessment, University of California, USA.

Revealing the true face of sugar raises a real problem for many people. The food industry loves sugar. It adds it liberally to almost everything it makes, be it sweet or savoury! Indeed, it must be a food manufacturers dream ingredient: as it’s as cheap as chips and people can’t get enough of it—especially children. And, after years of conflicting dietary advice, many people have also disengaged from the food debate and are now completely immune to public health campaigns. In other words, the problem is unlikely to resolve itself. At this point, you would expect government to step in and take control. In the UK, this could be about to happen, with the anticipated publication this month of the government’s long-awaited strategy on obesity. So, what can we expect?

In a recent interview, on BBC TV, the Health Secretary (Jeremy Hunt) described the rise in childhood obesity as a “national emergency”. He also promised a “game changing” response from the government—despite David Cameron’s previous opposition to a sugar tax. However, according to Mr Hunt, a sugar tax, or “something equally robust” is still on the table. New taxes are never popular among voters or politicians, so it remains to be seen whether the government is prepared to go down this road. Previous experience, with alcohol and tobacco, has demonstrated that taxation is the most effective tool for curbing consumption—as long as the level of taxation is set high enough and it targets the right products. Meanwhile, health campaigners, including celebrity chief, Jamie Oliver, have vowed to intensify their campaign unless a tax is introduced. So there could be trouble in the kitchen, if campaigners don’t get their way!

In the meantime, irrespective of government policy, there’s still plenty that parents and childcare workers can do to alleviate the problem. Clearly, some dietary items are worse for children’s health than others, and the main ones to avoid include: fizzy drinks; artificially-sweetened juices and squashes; “energy drinks”; chocolate and other flavoured milks, as well as sugar-encrusted breakfast cereals. Sweets, cakes and biscuits should also be regarded as treats, rather than everyday staples—for both children and adults! Life will never be the same again!

  1. Robert H. Lustig, Laura A. Schmidt and Claire D. Brindis. 2012. Public health: The toxic truth about sugar. Nature 482, 27–29

Rob Hodgkison, Harmony at Home Ltd. All Rights Reserved, 2016

Toy Food

Childcare Vouchers vs Tax-Free Childcare: the Winners and Losers

February 5, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Childcare Voucher Scheme to end in 2017

The Childcare Voucher scheme, introduced by the government in 1989, is due to end in 2017, to be replaced by the Tax Free Childcare allowance. Whilst this is excellent news for some parents, others are likely to find themselves worse off. But who are the winners and losers?

The current Childcare Voucher scheme allows parents or legal guardians to pay for childcare from their pre-tax salary—in a system known as salary sacrifice, which is administered by employers on the behalf of the government. Since the transaction is pre-tax, parents gain financially by receiving a higher face value of childcare vouchers than they would otherwise have received in salary. In other words, £1000 of pre-tax salary buys the same value of childcare vouchers, instead of being worth around £700 after tax and National Insurance deductions—thus making a saving of around £300 for a basic-rate tax payer. Parents can then use these vouchers pay for Ofsted-registered childcare for children up to the age of 15 years—or 16 years for children with disabilities. However, there are restrictions on the use of vouchers, which are determined by the number of working parents rather than the number of children. For basic-rate tax payers, voucher payments are restricted to £243 per month for one working parent and £486 per month for two. The same figures also apply to higher and top-rate tax payers who joined the scheme before 5 April 2011, provided their payments have continued for more than 12 months. However, higher and top-rate tax payers who joined the scheme after the 5th of April 2011, have a reduced allowance of £28 and £25 per week, respectively. In order to qualify, all parents or legal guardians must work for at least 35 hours per week and earn a minimum salary of £11,485 per year. However, as a notable exception, the scheme doesn’t support families in which both parents are self-employed.

The latest government scheme, which is due to launch in early 2017, is known (somewhat confusingly!) as Tax-Free Childcare. Under the new scheme, parents and legal guardians, as well as grandparents and other donors, will be able to save money for childcare by paying funds directly into a newly-created Childcare account, which is to be administered online. Families will then receive a 20% contribution from the government, up to a maximum of value of £2,000 per year per child—or £4,000 for children with disabilities. Thus, in contrast to Childcare Vouchers, government contributions have an upper limit that increases in proportion to the number of children in a family. However, there is a catch, as in order to qualify, both parents (in two parent families) need to be working and earning at least £100 per week. High-income families, with at least one salary exceeding £100,000 per year, will also be excluded; and, in contrast to Childcare Vouchers, the scheme will only fund Ofsted-registered care for children up to the age of 12 years—or 17 years, for children with disabilities.

Who are the winners and losers?*

The beneficiaries of the new Tax-free Childcare scheme will be higher-rate tax-payers, earning £42,385 to £100,000 per year—provided their childcare costs exceed £6,252 per year. The new scheme will also benefit families in which both parents are self-employed, and earning less than £100,000 each per year. Other beneficiaries include larger families with high childcare costs (greater than £9,336 per year)—since the upper limit for government support is determined by the number of children.

Unfortunately, there are also losers, the most obvious being two-parent families with only one working parent. However, many basic-rate tax payers will also be worse off under the new scheme, if their total childcare bill is less than £9,336 a year—irrespective of the number of children they have. High-income families (with at least one salary exceeding £100,000 per year) will also be worse off, as these parents will no longer qualify for support.

What Action Should I Take?

For parents who may lose out, the good news is that the current Childcare Voucher scheme will continue to run until early 2017, and it’s not too late to sign up—provided your employer is happy to administer the scheme and you already have a child! Once enrolled, parents will then be free to continue with the Childcare Voucher scheme for as long as their employers are able to offer it.

Implications For Nannies

The introduction of Tax Free Childcare in 2017 may offer potential benefits to Nannies, provided they are registered with Ofsted. With the extension of financial benefits to higher earners, the demand for Ofsted-registered Nannies is likely to increase. Therefore, 2016 might be a great time to get yourself registered. Please contact Harmony at Home for further help or advice

*Data from:

Rob Hodgkison, Harmony at Home Ltd. All Rights Reserved, 2016

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