More than three quarters of parents anxious about cost of childcare
Monday, October 28, 2019
Lobby group, Pregnant Then Screwed, stated the Government’s childcare offer does not do enough to support parents with costs in the first two years.
Nearly a fifth of parents have had to leave their jobs because of the ‘exorbitant cost of childcare’, according to the results of a survey.
The campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed surveyed over 1,800 parents about how childcare costs have impacted the family in terms of ability to work and mental health.
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While 84 per cent agreed the cost of childcare had created financial anxiety, a fifth of parents said they had to leave their jobs because of the burden.
Well over half of parents said they had to work fewer hours because of the expense of childcare.
The Government offer of 30 hours funded childcare is available for three and four-year-olds if parents meet the eligibility criteria.
The scheme has come under fire in recent years for prioritising high earners as parents making a joint income of up to £100,000 are eligible but those on zero contract hours, unable to guarantee their hours of work from one month to the next, are penalised.
Some two-year-olds are also entitled to 15 hours free childcare per week.
Pregnant Then Screwed has said that parents can find themselves trapped into paying expensive childcare for up to two years once mothers return to work after their maternity leave has ended.
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.
‘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.’
While Neil Leitch, chief executive of Early Years Alliance, agreed the Government must do more to support families during the post-parental leave period, he said any policy that aims to reduce childcare costs from nine months old but fails to recognise the funding problems could push the sector ‘to the brink of collapse’.
He continued: ‘If Government truly wants to support families with the cost of childcare, it simply must invest what is needed into the sector. Anything less will simply exacerbate the existing problems.’
A Government spokesperson said:‘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.’
Find out more about the campaign group here