• Two-thirds of parents have turned down work due to a lack of childcare
  • 1 in 4 grandparents are retiring early to pick up the childcare slack
  • 67% of parents have considered leaving their jobs buckling under the pressure of juggling childcare
  • 89% of parents want more flexibility on where they can spend their Government childcare benefits


Families with young children are missing out on £15,000 worth of annual income due to a lack of childcare, according to a new report.

As the cost-of-living crisis increases, a worrying 68% of parents claim they have had to turn down extra work or not apply for a particular job which might lead to more money – all because they can’t find flexible, affordable or available childcare to match. That’s according to new data from Bubble, the on-demand, flexible childcare app used by more than 200,000 people in the UK. 

For nearly 7 in 10 parents (67%), the challenge is so hard that it has made them contemplate leaving their job. For those working part-time, this is even higher, with more than three-quarters of parents (77%) admitting that they have thought about leaving their job as a result of the struggle of being able to juggle the two. 66% of parents would even take a pay cut to get more flexible childcare benefits.

Parents around the country are patching together a combination of friends and family as babysitters (47%), using tablets to keep kids distracted (17%) or paying for additional support such as a babysitter (13%) to try and keep on top of the work that falls outside of traditional childcare hours.

The knock-on effect is also seeing grandparents forced to retire earlier than planned, with one in four (23%) retiring early to pick up the childcare slack. Additionally, more than 1 in 10 grandparents (13%) have dipped into their savings and pension pot to help support their children with childcare costs. 

The UK government provides all families with tax-free childcare, equating to up to £2,000 a year of support for formal providers such as nurseries and childminders. However, while 1.3million families are eligible, around 800,000* are not taking up the help.

The survey of over 1,000 parents with children aged 0-5 found that 83% of parents need more flexible childcare and that 85% of them would be more likely to use the tax-free childcare benefit if it could be spent on a broader range of providers.

A third of parents (29%) explained that they often need childcare at short notice, while a further third (29) also said they work flexibly, so their schedule can be subject to change. A fifth of parents only work during term, leaving them struggling to manage when the holidays hit. 

Ari Last, co-founder of Bubble and father-of-three, said that the problem lies not only in the fact that childcare has become increasingly unaffordable for many but that it simply isn’t flexible enough in today’s working world.

The pandemic changed our working lives forever,” said Last. “It’s time the childcare system changed to match. With a quarter of employers now offering flexible working as standard – and that number set to rise – parents need flexible childcare to match.

The current rules that govern how and with whom a parent can use their government allowance were written before the iPhone was invented. How parents want and need to access childcare today, like many things, has changed dramatically, and regulation needs to adapt.”  

Last added: “Freelancers, shift workers, and students – all deserve to be able to use the tax-free childcare support in a way that works for them. Parents are working in the evenings, on weekends and no longer 9-5 Monday to Friday – and they need help.”

Nearly half of UK parents (46%) said they’re constantly tired as a result of not having childcare that’s flexible enough, a third (29%) said it’s taking a toll on their mental health, while a third (29%) said their work is piling up as a result.

When it comes to their personal lives, a third of parents (29%) said their relationship with their partner felt impacted. A quarter of all parents (24%) they feel that it’s reducing their sex life, while one in five (17%) said their sex life had become non-existent as a result.


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About the research: 

Survey was conducted of 1,001 UK parents of 0-5 year olds between 25-31 October 2022.


About Bubble:

Bubble is the UK’s biggest on-demand childcare platform, used by over 200,000 people to discover, book and pay for flexible in-home childcare. 

With its 12-point trust & verification system, Bubble connects parents with local nannies and babysitters whom their friends and community know, love and trust.

The platform delivered more than 10,000 hours of voluntary childcare to NHS workers during the pandemic, and its backers include the Founders of some of the UK’s biggest internet success stories.

The app is available on both iOS and Android. For more information, go to