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Upstairs, Downstairs

It would appear that Upstairs, Downstairs seems to be coming to life again – and not only on our screens. One in seven families can't (or won't) do without home help, according to a survey. A quarter simply "don't like chores" – hired help, it would appear, is the new status symbol for middle England!

Hiring domestic help appears to have withstood the tests of the economic downturn for much of the UK, as six million (that's 12%) Britons admit to paying for cleaners, gardeners, handymen, etc

Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs showcased the world of servants and their part in everyday life. This is now no longer confined to the nostalgic world of days gone by. Almost a quarter of those who pay for domestic help admit this is because they simply do not like domestic chores. For others it is a question of convenience – almost a third do not have time to do the housework themselves, and this rises to nearly half for those ages 18-34.

One of the most sought after domestic workers are cleaners, employed by some 2.5 million people in the UK and accounting for around a third of all hired help. Nearly two-thirds of those employing cleaners ask them to come in at least once a week. Surprisingly gardeners are equally popular, and are also employed by 2.5 million of us who do not have green fingers!

With more and more parents returning to the rat race within a year of having children, nannies (once the preserve of the upper classes) have now become an integral member of the family for around 500,000 parents. If you hate DIY, a handyman is a good idea – a million people admit to hiring someone to help out with jobs around the house. Another 500,000 say they employ someone to undertake the laundry and ironing. Full steam ahead for them then!

If all of this helps the work/life balance and is affordable, it can only be good. If you are considering employing someone to help with household tasks, make sure you secure good references and make certain that hours and workload are clearly agreed. Remember also to check the insurance cover of people working in your home. If they are employed by an agency, the agency must have sufficient insurance should a DIY job go wrong – or a cleaners breaks or damages your property. If you are employing directly, ask your cleaner etc if they have insurance themselves: they should. You should also take advice from a professional insurance company – call Westhill Insurance Services. They can advise you whether you need to take out any insurance to cover or whether you may be already covered under your home and contents policy.

Remember that your domestic help is someone coming into your home, and be aware of all the implications of this, from health and safety through to insurance The genteel days of having 'help' or 'a lady that does' may not seem so far away now, but don't expect a mop cap and a curtsey – those days have truly passed. Nowadays you need the latest cleaning equipment and make sure you adhere to the law! Mrs Bridges would not have been impressed!

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 10th July, 2011