Cost of childcare prevents unemployed parents from working

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A survey of parents has revealed that over a fifth who are unemployed want to work but can't because childcare is 'prohibitively expensive'.


According to the survey, a lack of affordable childcare is stopping unemployed parents who want to work from finding a job

More than 1,000 parents with an annual household income of under £30,000 were surveyed by the charities Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and Working Families.

More than a fifth (21 per cent) of those who took part in the survey and were unemployed said they wanted to work but found childcare 'prohibitively expensive', while 16 per cent said they could not find childcare for the hours they needed. 

Over two-fifths of part-time workers who responded said they wanted to work more hours, and 71 per cent wanted permanent jobs, but felt they were prevented from doing so by a lack of affordable childcare, inadequate pay and poor opportunities for progression.

The survey also found:

  • Parenting responsibilities were the main reason cited by parents for not being able to work more, closely followed by childcare;
  • Almost half (47 per cent) of working parents claimed they don't have enough money to support their families;
  • A third said they worked too much and did not have enough time with their family.

The survey findings have been published to coincide with the launch of CPAG and Working Families’ Britain Works programme. The programme aims to address in-work poverty by speaking to charities and UK employers together to identify ways of improving the working lives of the UK’s low- and middle-income parents. 

A Britain Works report has also been published today, which identified how the world of work is changing and how this is affecting moves into work, career progression, work-life balance and the rewards from work.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of CPAG, said, 'Our findings show Britain wants to work. Parents are saying they want job security, decent pay and good promotion prospects but too often these elude them. Pay is often low. Extra hours in a job aren’t always there. Childcare costs are sky-high. And too often parents looking to progress in work hit a brick wall.  

‘We are launching Britain Works to address these problems and want a wide range of employers and parents to get involved. But we also need action from Government. Nearly half of the parents we polled with a household income under £30,000 said they didn’t have enough to support their family. The return of inflation will stretch budgets further. The Chancellor can help in this month’s Budget. A good first step would be to pause and fix universal credit and restore its ability to make work pay for families.’

Chief executive of Working Families Sarah Jackson added, ‘Almost half of the low paid parents in our survey say they don’t have enough money to support their families; and a third of parents we spoke to also say they do not have enough time to spend with them. Clearly work is not a route out of poverty for many families, and can in fact impose a new form of time poverty which prevents families from thriving.’

The Department for Work and Pensions has been contacted for a comment.

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