Middle class fears as foreign nannies 'put off moving to UK' after Brexit vote

New figures suggest the number of young Europeans signing up to become au pairs in the UK has fallen by up to half since 2015.

Experts have blamed the change on last year’s historic vote to quit the European Union (EU).

They say au pairs have been deterred from moving to the UK, and are instead picking EU countries such as Ireland.

Rebecca Haworth-Wood, chairwoman of the British Au Pair Agencies Association (BAPAA), said: “Brexit has really damaged us. 

“Many families rely on au pairs but this year our agencies are struggling to find them. 

“Europeans are just less willing to come because Britain is perceived to be anti-foreigner. They want to go to families in places like Ireland instead.”

AuPairWorld, Europe’s biggest au pair agency, had 21,000 applications to become au pairs in the UK in the first half of 2015.

According to the Sunday Times, the figure fell to 12,000 in the same period this year – a 43 per cent decline.

Susanne Becker, a spokeswoman for AuPairWorld, said. “We are sorry about this especially for our host families and au pairs. 

“As the UK is important for us, we keep a close eye on the Brexit negotiations and consequences for au pairing.”

Madeleine Nilsson, a Swedish au pair who works in the UK, said she was made to feel unwelcome during the EU referendum campaign. 

The 25-year-old said: “I was living in a household where the dad voted Leave and the mum wanted to stay. It felt quite personal, like some people wanted me to leave. 

“If the referendum had happened earlier I might have gone elsewhere.

“I have lots of friends of different nationalities who wanted to come here and are now planning to go elsewhere.”

Maggie Dyer, of the London Au Pair and Nanny Agency, said debates about limiting EU migration had put off would-be applicants.

She said: “There was anti-immigrant rhetoric around the Brexit referendum, plus reports of foreign visitors getting abuse. 

“That was reported in Europe and people remember.”

Theresa May last month unveiled her plan to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit.

She said her “fair and serious” offer should reassure EU nationals that they will be able to go on living their lives as before.

But European Council president Donald Tusk said Mrs May’s plan fell short of Brussels’ expectations.

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