Childcare Is Costing Families More Than Their Rent Or Mortgage

Inflated costs are contributing to the gender pay gap and child poverty.
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Almost two thirds of families are paying more, or the same, for their childcare as they do their rent or mortgage, according to a survey of 27,000 parents of young children.

The survey was conducted by online forum Mumsnet and charity Pregnant Then Screwed, who looked into the impact of childcare costs on families.

The research found that 62% of parents say that the cost of childcare is now the same or more than their domestic costs. This rises to 73% for single parents and parents who work full-time, with high childcare costs being a key driver for women being pushed into low-paid part-time work.

More than four in 10 (43%) of mums said that the cost of childcare has made them consider leaving their job and 40% said they have had to work fewer hours than they would like because of the inflated costs.

One in four (25%) parents say that they have had to cut down on necessary expenses such as food, heating or clothing to afford childcare. This rose to almost half (48%) for young parents and more than half (53%) of all single parents.

The majority of parents (80%) expect their childcare bill to rise further in the next six months and 99% of parents say that the cost of childcare is making the cost of living crisis even more challenging.

The availability of childcare is also causing huge issues for parents, with 41% saying there is a waiting list of six months or more at their local childcare provider and one in five parents (19%) say they have experienced the closure of their local childcare setting in the last 12 months.

Last year, Pregnant Then Screwed launched a campaign to ask the government to commission an independent review of the childcare system to evaluate why families are being failed.

Unfortunately, the petition, signed by more than 113,000 people, was rejected on International Women’s Day.

Now Pregnant Then Screwed is launching a campaign called #UnHappyMothersDay to raise awareness of the challenges mother’s experience when trying to have children and a career. They will deliver their petition demanding an independent review to 10 Downing Street.

The cost of childcare is furthering the cost of living crisis.
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The cost of childcare is furthering the cost of living crisis.

Joeli Brearley, founder of the campaign group, said: “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.

“It is beyond frustrating that childcare is being ignored time and time again by this government.”

Investment in childcare can not only help parents, but it can reap benefits for their children and the economy.

The Women’s Budget Group found that investment in childcare creates almost three times as many jobs as the same investment in construction.

Justine Roberts, CEO of Mumsnet added: “Mumsnet users have been saying for years that childcare provision in the UK is not fit for purpose - and as the cost of living crisis bites, things are only getting worse.”

She pointed out that it’s women who are forced to reduce their hours, forego promotions, or even leave work altogether as a result.

“Fiddling around the edges will not solve the fundamental problems with childcare in the UK,” she said. “The government must come up with a serious plan to fix our broken system and they should start by recognising childcare as the vital infrastructure it is.”