Cost Of Childcare Stops 40% Of Mothers Returning To Work, Survey Says

The issue is set to be a major battleground between the Tories and Labour at the general election.
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Nearly two in five UK mothers say they are unable to return to work due to the cost of childcare, a new survey has found.

A third of working mothers also spend more than 30% of their wages on childcare, according to new data by jobs site Indeed Flex.

Their survey of 2,000 mums found that two in five believe the government’s plans to increase hours of free childcare do not go far enough.

The issue is set to be a major battleground between the Tories and Labour at the general election.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt recently unveiled a surprise new package in his first Budget which will eventually amount to 30 hours of free care a week for children under five.

Indeed Flex’s survey found that 37% of mothers believe that even with the additional support, childcare remains too expensive.

Parents in the UK face some of the most expensive childcare costs among leading economies, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The average annual cost of a full-time nursery place for a child under two in Great Britain is now £14,836, according to charity Coram.

Novo Constare, CEO of Indeed Flex, said there was a lot to do to “balance the scales”, adding: “Nursery and childminder costs can swallow a huge chunk of new parents’ earnings, and with the current cost-of-living crisis squeezing every household’s budget, it’s no surprise that some women are put off going back to work.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said the “broken” childcare system is denying mothers the opportunity of returning to the workplace and the economy was “paying the price”.

“The Conservatives’ half-baked plans will pour petrol on the fire, with more nurseries likely to leave the sector altogether,” she added.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We recognise the cost pressures that childcare has on parents, which is why we recently announced a transformative package of childcare support. This includes a new 30 free hours entitlement for eligible working parents of children between nine months and their fifth birthday and a series of trailblazers ahead of a national roll out of primary school wraparound care.

“This builds on our existing support which has totalled £20 billion over the past five years. We have provided record levels of financial support for the most vulnerable - £1,200 last year and a further £1,350 in 2023/24. This is on top of an increase in benefits of 10.1% this week, a continuation of the Energy Price Guarantee, and the Household Support Fund, which is helping with essential food and energy costs.”


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