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‘Makes no financial sense’ to work, say three-quarters of mothers paying for childcare

Rebecca Goodman
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Rebecca Goodman

Three in four mothers (76%) have said it does not make financial sense for them to work because of rising childcare fees, a new report has revealed.

One in 10 also said that childcare costs are the same or more than their take-home pay and for 22% of parents, fees are more than half of their household income.

Parents in the UK pay the highest childcare fees of any developed country, according to the OECD, and 32% have had to rely on debt to cover costs, according to the report of 24,000 from the organisation Pregnant then Screwed.

The cost-of-living crisis is making the problem worse with soaring inflation and spiralling costs. Yet prices are set to rise further, by 8% in the next year as many providers are faced with closures because they aren’t receiving enough funding.

Almost all don’t think the Government is doing enough to help

Four in 10 parents said they are now having to choose between childcare fees and paying for household essentials.

Many groups have urged Jeremy Hunt to address the childcare sector in his upcoming budget, as 98% of women with young children said they think the government is not doing enough to help parents.

Of the families with a child under the age of 16, 88% said they are likely to vote for the political party with the best childcare pledge at the next general election. This rose to 96% for families with a child under the age of three.

The organisation has launched a new campaign, called ‘A Cry For Help’ with Saatchi and Saatchi which uses the sound of a baby’s cry to bring to life the childcare crisis, and to symbolise the cry for help from parents across the UK.

‘We have a cost of working crisis’

Joeli Brearley, founder and CEO of Pregnant Then Screwed, said: “We don’t just have a cost of living crisis in the UK, we have a cost of working crisis with 1 in 10 mothers now paying to go to work; and that’s if they can even secure a childcare place – we’ve lost thousands of providers in the last year because they simply cannot afford to remain open.’’

Becca Lyon, head of child poverty at Save the Children UK, said: “The evidence of our broken childcare system is there in plain sight – it is not working for parents, children, or providers. These statistics confirm what we are hearing from the parents we support – many of them would love to get back to work or increase their hours, but they simply can’t afford to.

“We need a childcare guarantee – universally accessible, affordable childcare from the end of parental leave to the end of primary school. This would allow all children to benefit from quality childcare and early education and help parents get into work.”

‘The sector has reached breaking point’

Neil Leitch, chief executive officer of the Early Years Alliance, said: “Year after year, funding for the so-called ‘free childcare’ offers has failed to keep up with surging costs, leaving nurseries, pre-schools and childminders with no option but to increase fees to stay afloat.

“The simple fact is that if the sector was properly funded, families would not have to sacrifice their careers to reduce early years costs, and thousands of providers would not be forced to choose between sharp increases in prices during a cost-of-living crisis, or closing completely.

“The sector has reached breaking point. It is vital, therefore the Government commits to adequate long-term funding for the early years in this month’s Spring Budget. Anything less will not only seal the fate of the sector, but will also make it even more challenging for families to access the high-quality and affordable care and education they need.”