Cost of childcare forcing parents to quit their jobs


New research which shows that nearly a fifth of parents have had to leave their job because of the cost of childcare, calls for subsidised care from the age of nine months.

Campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed want childcare to be subsidised from when children turn nine months old
Campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed want childcare to be subsidised from when children turn nine months old

In a survey of over 1,800 parents, 84 per cent said that the cost of childcare creates financial anxiety in their family.

Because of the financial burden of childcare, a total of 17 per cent said they had to leave their jobs and 62 per cent have reduced their working hours.

A further 17 per cent have had to leave their job due to a lack of childcare provision, while 22 per cent have had to leave their job due to a lack of flexible childcare.

Campaign group Pregnant than Screwed, which carried out the research, said given that it is mostly women who ‘bear the brunt of childcare’, the findings add to the ‘motherhood penalty’ and gender pay gap.

As such, it is calling for subsidised childcare to fill the gap from when paid maternity leave finishes to when children become eligible for the funded hours at age three.

Comments

Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed said, ‘Our latest piece of research highlights exactly why women fall behind in the workplace, and that is because of the punitive costs of childcare. If we are to change the landscape for women, and parents, we need to provide properly subsidised childcare from nine months old.

‘The Government have introduced 30 hours ‘free’ childcare for from 3 years old, and tax-free childcare for employees; this is not enough and impacts not only the parents but childcare providers as they are unable to cover the cost of delivery. Women only get one year of maternity leave with only nine months paid, so there are two years that they either stay at home with the children because of the high cost of childcare or return to work with a huge bill hanging over them - with many reducing their hours in order to strike a balance.

‘Childcare is infrastructure. Our childcare system is failing parents, it is failing childcare providers and it is failing childcare staff. We need the Government to create a childcare system that works so that nurseries can stay open and provide good quality care and so that we can close the gender pay gap and start to tackle the motherhood penalty.’

The Early Years Alliance called upon the Government to 'invest what is needed into the sector' rather than exacerbate existing funding problems.

Chief executive Neil Leitch said, 'We fully recognise the impact high childcare costs continue to have on many families across the country. 

'Years of inadequate Government funding have left thousands of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders struggling to keep their heads above water, and many have been forced to charge parents higher fees to try to bridge an ever-increasing funding gap. This has had a particular impact on those parents of younger children who aren’t eligible for any Government-funded schemes.

'That said, while we agree that the Government must do more to support families in the post-parental leave period, any policy to subsidise childcare places for children from the age of nine months that doesn’t firstly address the severe underfunding issues already facing providers, and secondly, ensure that such subsidiation is fully and properly costed, would push the sector to the brink of collapse.'

Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary, said, 'Since 2010, childcare costs have risen at double the rate of wages, and it is clear the Tories are failing to provide the high-quality, affordable care needed by parents across the country.

'Families on the lowest income have been excluded from the Government’s main free childcare programme and once again they are paying the highest price for ministers’ refusal to invest in services.'

 

Government response

'We are investing record amounts in childcare and early education, including around £3.5 billion on our free early education entitlements this year alone - and 600,000 three and four-year-olds have benefitted from a 30 hours place in the first two years of the delivery of the programme. Working parents are also benefitting from help with their childcare costs through Tax-Free Childcare and universal credit.

'We want to support early years providers in delivering high-quality care and education, which is why we recently announced an extra £66 million to increase hourly rates for the Government’s free hours offers for 2020-21.'

 

 

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