‘We’ve said it before, but it needs saying again: the costs of childcare in the UK are spiralling and they’re not sustainable,’ said our editor Hattie Brett this morning when she went to Downing Street with Pregnant Then Screwed (and 2-year-old Amelie) to deliver the #UnHappyMothersDay petition to keep putting pressure on the government.
Because despite over 113,000 of you signing our affordable childcare petition, calling on the government to hold an independent review into the cost of childcare, they said no – on International Women’s Day, no less.
But this problem isn’t going away – in fact, it’s getting worse. According to a recent survey by Pregnant Then Screwed and Mumsnet, nine in ten said all they want this Mother’s Day is affordable, good quality childcare.
The survey of 26,963 parents of young children looking into the impact childcare costs are having on families, found 43% of mum are considering leaving their jobs due to the cost of childcare. 62% said that cost of childcare is now the same or more as their rent or mortgage, and this rises to 71% for Black and Asian families, 73% for parents where both work full time, and 73% for single parents.
All this comes amidst one of the worst cost of living crisis of our times, with 99% of families saying their household bills have risen in the last 6 months, and 10% of households saying they have more than doubled. Thirteen per cent of single parents have had to use foods bank due to increased childcare costs and other costs, and 80% of parents expect their childcare bill to rise again in the next 6 months. According to the survey, this has led to one in four parents saying they have had to cut down on necessary expenses such as food, heating or clothing to afford childcare.
The spiralling cost of childcare hits mothers hardest, with 40% working fewer hours than they would like or can afford to, with one in five saying they’ve had to move to less senior roles to cut back on these costs.
‘Our research with tens of thousands of parents demonstrates that the Government’s approach to childcare just is not working,’ says Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed. ‘We have the second most expensive childcare system in the OECD, and due to years of underfunding schemes such as the 30 hours “free”, the quality of our childcare is also extremely poor. Time and time again research shows if Governments invest in a good quality childcare system, it pays for itself through increased taxes, but it also decreases the attainment gap between the richest and the poorest children.
‘As we head into a cost of living crisis, families with young children will be the hardest hit due to the fact that the majority are paying the same as, or more than their rent/mortgage, just so they can go to work and earn money.’