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High childcare costs are pricing families out of the workplace

On the 25th March ‘Pregnant then Screwed’ and ‘Mumsnet’ released the results of their survey of over 26,000 parents which looked at the impact childcare costs were having on families in the UK.

High childcare costs are clearly impacting on the types of work women can take on and whether they commit to full or part time roles

  • 62% of parents said that their childcare costs were the same or more than their rent or mortgage.
  • This rose to 73% of parents in single parent families which illustrates why high childcare costs are driving so many women into lower paid, part-time work.
  • 43% of mothers claimed that the cost of childcare had made them consider leaving their job entirely and 40% said that high childcare costs had resulted in them having to reduce their working hours.

Parents are also having to cut down on essential household items in order to afford childcare

  •  25% of parents saying that they’ve had to cut down on heating, food and fuel. This is against a backdrop where the cost of household basics are increasing (so putting even more of a squeeze on finances).
  • 99% of parents agreed that childcare and the cost of childcare was making the cost of living crisis even more challenging.
  • 13% of parents said they have had to rely on food banks in order to pay for childcare costs.

A lack of availability of good quality childcare is also a key challenge for parents

  • 41% of parents said that there was a more than 6 month waiting list for their local childcare provider
  • 19% of parents added that they had experienced the closure of their local childcare setting in the past 12 months.

For some parents childcare is simply out of their reach because of the high costs involved

  • 75% of those who do not use formal childcare said they cannot afford it, rising to 81% of those who have 2 children under the age of 5 years old and 87% of young mums (under 26 years old)
  • 24% of parents said they now have to rely on family or friends much more for childcare because of rising costs, rising to 43% for young parents

In conjunction with this survey the ‘Early Years Alliance’ revealed childcare providers are struggling to stay afloat

  • 86% of childcare providers said that the government funding they receive is less than the cost of delivering places
  • 35% said that they wouldn’t have had to put up their fees if government funding covered the cost of delivering these places.

The impact of high childcare costs results in more women leaving the workplace (though it is not exclusively a female issue) and also in a skills shortage

The founder of ‘Pregnant then Screwed’, Joeli Brearley, said: ‘Our research with tens of thousands of parents demonstrates that the Government’s approach to childcare just is not working…What is needed is a mind shift in Government. It is abundantly clear that they don’t value childcare – they don’t understand that childcare investment reduces the welfare bill, gets more people into work, improves the skills shortage and has long term benefits for children. They don’t understand that this isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue.’

Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said of the survey results: ‘It’s utterly appalling that families are having to cut back on essentials to pay for childcare. High quality childcare boosts life chances and is essential for working parents but under this government it’s increasingly unavailable and unaffordable.’

It’s obvious that high childcare costs are resulting in parents being forced to make difficult decisions

This is resulting in a loss of diversity in the workplace, parents having to reassess their jobs and maybe leave their jobs entirely and it is impacting on the mental health of parents who are already feeling financially stretched by the rising costs of living.

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