Are you thinking about leaving your job because the cost of childcare is making working not worthwhile? Do you feel stuck because you have to work, but don’t have much to show for it because childcare costs are eating away at your earnings?
If so, you aren’t on your own. According to a new survey by Save the Children and the Daycare Trust families on low-incomes across the UK are having to turn down jobs or are considering leaving work because they can’t afford to pay for childcare?
According to the survey, 80% of these families feel that once they have paid for childcare, they are in no better situation than if they did not work at all because things are so tight financially. And a quarter of them say that childcare costs have driven them into debt.
The survey also found that parents, regardless of income, say that they can’t afford not to work, but struggle to pay for childcare. And despite many parents cutting back their spending, almost a quarter have got into debt because of childcare costs.
UK parents spend almost a third of their incomes on childcare â€“ the highest worldwide – and such high costs have the greatest consequences for the poorest families, who have to cut back on family essentials like food. Of those families in severe poverty, 58% said they were or would be no better off working once childcare is paid for.
The cost of childcare have become so high that for some families it is on a par with 41% of families mortgage or rent payments.
The cut to the working tax credit has also dealt a massive blow to hard working families struggling to make ends meet, with four in 10 of those affected considering giving up work because they will no longer earn enough to cover the childcare bill. This government cut has added up to £1,560 per year onto the childcare bill of some low income families.
Save the Children and Daycare Trust are calling on the government to increase the amount they plan to spend on childcare support under the new universal credit – to pay up to 80% of childcare costs for low income families – in a bid to prevent low income families from being priced out of work and into poverty.
Sally Copley, Save the Children’s Head of Poverty, said: â€œThe government is undermining its own â€˜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.â€
Anand Shukla, Chief Executive of Daycare Trust, said: â€œDaycare 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.â€
Save the Children and Daycare Trust are calling on people to ask their MP to call on the Chancellor to give childcare support a boost www.savethechildren.org.uk/childcare