New survey shows soaring cost of childcare
Families on low incomes across the UK are having to turn down jobs or are considering leaving work because they cannot afford to pay for childcare, according to new research from Save the Children and Daycare Trust.
Parents in Britain now spend almost a third of their incomes on childcare - more than anywhere else in the world - and such high costs have the greatest consequences for the poorest families, the survey says.
The cut to the working tax credit has also “dealt a massive blow to hard working families struggling in severe poverty”, with four in ten of those affected considering giving up work because they will no longer earn enough to cover the childcare bill. The cut has added on average £500 per year on to the childcare bill of low-income families.
Other key findings
A quarter of parents in severe poverty have given up work and a third have turned down a job mainly because of high childcare costs - more than twice as likely as better off parents.
Of those parents in severe poverty and currently in paid employment the majority (80%) agreed with the statement "Once I have paid for childcare, I am in a similar position to as if I was not working".
The majority of parents living in severe poverty (61%) said they were struggling to pay for childcare compared to around a third of parents on higher incomes (37%).
Save the Children and Daycare Trust are calling on the government to increase the amount it plans to spend on childcare support under the new universal credit (to pay up to 80% of childcare costs for low income families up to current weekly maximums) in a bid to prevent low income families from being priced out of work and into poverty.
A final word
"The government is undermining its own ‘make work pay' policy by not funding the costs of childcare for the poorest families. Childcare in the UK is amongst the most expensive in the world and families on low incomes simply don't earn enough to cover the costs and are being priced out of work as a result. The recent cut to the working tax credit has only made this worse with many parents realising they are no better off working and they and their children remain trapped in poverty. The government must give the poorest parents a chance to work their way above the poverty line. We know that the best way out of child poverty is to help parents into work." - Sally Copley, Head of Poverty, Save the Children.
"Daycare Trust hears from parents every day who are being forced to make difficult decisions about their career and family life as a result of Britain's high childcare costs. Being able to work and be financially independent is in the interests of both families and our wider society; yet as our survey shows, parents are being forced out of work as a direct result of how expensive childcare is. If you want welfare reform to ensure that work does pay for low income families, then you need high-quality childcare provision that is affordable for parents." - Anand Shukla, Chief Executive, Daycare Trust.
Want to know more?
Title: Childcare Costs Survey 2011, Save the Children and Daycare Trust, September 2011.
Availability: You can purchase the survey online at www.daycaretrust.org.uk/pages/childcare-costs-surveys.html.
Daycare Trust is the "national childcare charity" working since November 1986 to "promote high quality affordable childcare for all". For more details visit www.daycaretrust.org.uk.