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Crippling Cost of Childcare Stops Mums Going Back to Work

January 23, 2018, 12:00 PM
  • Mothers missing out on earnings due to expensive childcare costs
  • “Childcare system is stacked against them”
  • 450,000 women can’t go back to work because of costs
  • Parents having to subsidise “free” nursery places
Rising costs of childcare and a lack of government funding means mums are staying at home instead of going back to work. Image: Getty

Mothers of young children are forced to stay at home rather than go back to work because of crippling childcare costs.

Charity Save the Children calculated that there are more than 450,000 women who would like to work, but are unable to because the cost of childcare would be greater than their earnings.

UK women are losing £1.2 billion each year in earnings, due to not being able to work.

Steven McIntosh, Save the Children’s director of UK poverty policy, advocacy, and campaigns, said, “Mothers describe a childcare system that feels stacked against them.

“They tell us it’s a nightmare to navigate with barriers to work at every turn, the system is stacked against them.

“The result is an astounding loss in earning, hitting families already battling to make ends meet.

“The financial pressure and stress that creates at home is never good for parents or their children.

“It’s time to make childcare work for families.”

Parents have admitted to struggling to pay for childcare, and having to come up with alternative solutions to tackle the costs.

One mum from the Latest Deals community, said, “After childcare travel and my commute to London for work, it would cost me more than what I was earning.

“I use my annual leave in half terms now, but I had to speak to my boss to negotiate some work from home days too.

“It’s not ideal, as my son sometimes just has to sit and entertain himself quietly.”

For parents who do pay for childcare, it can take a huge chunk out of their wages.

One parents said, “My nursery is at work so it’s subsidised and deducted from my wages.

“I work three days a week, and childcare costs half my wages, it’s eye watering, if it wasn’t subsidised I wouldn’t be able to work.”

The Government is supposed to provide free childcare for children between the ages of 2-4.

Parents often have to pay for childcare, even when it's supposed to be free, because of funding gaps (image: Getty)

For other ages, you can get a percentage of working tax credits towards childcare, which is based on your income.

70% is the highest amount you can be awarded, which is for the lowest income families.

A Department for Education spokesperson said, “We have doubled the free childcare available to working parents to 30 hours a week, saving parents up to £5,000 a year per child.

“Our independent evaluation of the early rollout of 30 hours free childcare showed that nearly a quarter of mothers and one in ten fathers increased their working hours as a result.”

To be eligible for this scheme, both parents must be working at least 16 hours a week each, but also each earn less than £100,00 a year.

However, it has also been found that parents are having to pay to plug gaps in the supposedly free childcare, because the hourly rates paid are too low.

Only a third of nursery places on the scheme are actually free, for the rest, parents are having to pay for things like meals and nappies.

35% of nurseries also said they had increased fees for non-government funded hours, and introduced increased charges for goods and services as well.

Another fifth of nurseries did not think that they would be financially sustainable by 2019 unless the funding from the government is increased.

Childminders and nannies are also struggling from a lack of funding.

Carol, who works in childcare, said, "We have a big responsibility looking after children, but the wages are awful.

"There are huge stresses that come with the job, and there is never anytime to do all the paperwork so people are always on your back as you need to catch up.

"I do feel sorry for parents who are having to pay so much in nursery fees."

Samantha said, "I've been a nanny for 27 years, yet I hardly get a pay rise and all my bills are still going up."

The Government has also been criticised recently for not informing people properly on their benefits, including pensioners losing out on thousands a year, and married couples missing out on tax allowances.

To see what you are owed in childcare, go to the Government's website.

AgnesFaludiover a year ago

If I work full time and pay the childcare. I will end up with £300 left in my pocket. This can not be right....I am not sure why it is so bad if we work and pay tax and get free childcare....

Other Eastern European Countries can do it. They pay 2-3 years Maternity Pay and after the childcare is free.

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