How you can help save the Au Pair programme

Spending a year as an au pair in Berlin was one of the best years of my life. I made lasting friendships, learned a language and gained a lot of sympathy for the challenges of parenting. 

The experience of au pairing abroad at a young age has been enjoyed by young people for hundreds of years. Long before the Erasmus student exchange program was born, Europe’s youth have been swapping their home for a year in Rome, Paris or London. At the same time, thousands of families benefit from the au pair program with affordable childcare and the opportunity to exchange cultures and languages. 

German au pairs will continue to spend a life changing year in Paris, and Polish au pairs can enjoy a summer as an au pair in Dublin. In the UK, this is all about the come to a stop because of Brexit. 

According to the British Au Pair Agencies Association (BAPAA), the number of au pairs coming to the UK has already plummeted by seventy-percent

This is because au pairs from EU member states have been able to arrive in the UK without a visa under the rule of free movement of people. As the Tory government is hellbent on putting a stop to free movement, the centuries old au pair program is collateral damage. 

The au pair program may not be the biggest tragedy of Brexit. But, it is yet another symptom of the government’s antipathy toward cultural diversity and exchange. As Liberal Democrats, we should support the British au pair industry and fight for European cultural exchange. 

There are a few ways you can help to call for the government to put to legislate to support the au pair program. You can:

  • Sign the Save Au Pairs petition.
  • Share the petition with your family and friends on social media.
  • Write to your MP to ask them to lobby the government.


* Joe Dodd is an activist and member of the Hammersmith and Fulham Liberal Democrats and is vice-chair of the Green Liberal Democrats.

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  • John Marriott 5th Sep '20 - 9:07am

    Sorry, mate; but providing cheap labour/ childcare for middle class households in Germany or anywhere else for that matter is hardly #1 on my priorities at the moment.

  • With covid infections doubling off recent lows, mass movement of people will have to die a death. Agree loss of FOM is a terrible thing for individuals but the LibDem never offered up welfare reform to exclude people who have not been resident for five years and therefore only have themselves to blame.

  • It’s little surprise we’re at 5% in the polls when our recent policies have included removing affordable restaurants from
    Eat out to Help Out, moaning about Love Island influencers and now helping wealthy families access au-pairs.

    We have become an exclusively upper middle class party and we will not be relevant to the general public until we focus on the issues they care about.

  • Tony Greaves 5th Sep '20 - 4:29pm

    The point about the au pair system is that it gives young Brits the opportunity for a year or part of a year abroad (and learn a language). Particularly young people who are not from well-off families so could not do it on their own resources.

  • Richard Easter 6th Sep '20 - 8:10am

    I can only agree with the above comments.

    What does this have to say to tradespeople, small business owners, emergency service workers, supermarket staff, NHS workers, refuse collection, the police, serving armed forces, factory workers, transport and logistics workers, gig economy workers, and so on?

    The backbone of Britain needs a reason to vote Lib Dem. Labour are offering the popular 2017 manifesto under a competent patriotic leader. The Conservatives are offering a new future prosperity of Brexit Britain (which may seem nonsense to us, but that’s not the point – millions passionately support it).

    The Lib Dems are on about au pairs.

  • Richard Easter 6th Sep '20 - 11:06am

    Furthermore promoting freedom of movement during a global pandemic is utterly ludicrious.

    It’s on a par with defunding the UK police or creating a market in the privatisation of search and rescue. A niche policy which 90% of the public will laugh at.

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