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Cost of Childcare, Lack of Government Support is “Failing Families” According to Mega Survey

Over 20,000 parents took part in the survey between 20th July and 31st August 2021, with the results strongly indicating that UK parents feel overworked and under supported by the government in their family roles.

Photographer: Picsea | Source: Unsplash

The survey was conducted by Mumsnet, in partnership with Pregnant Then Screwed, the TUC, the Fawcett Society, the Women’s Budget Group, Gingerbread, The Guardian, Working Families, the Fatherhood Institute and Maternity Action, with further distribution assistance from Music Football Fatherhood, Mother Pukka, Tova Leigh, Black Mums Upfront, The Young Women’s Trust, and Cathy Reay (That Single Mum). 20,046 UK parents with at least one child aged 18 or under took part, with significant results.

Only 8% of all participants surveyed said they had “been able to meet childcare costs without any impact on [their] standard of living”, with 23% stating they had accumulated debts as a direct result of the need to meet childcare costs.

12% of families surveyed said they had been forced to cut back on essential items such as heating or food, because of the cost of childcare.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

Speaking in a debate on the childcare system in Westminster Hall on Monday, Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, said that “help with the cost of childcare and early education is one of the best ways Government can support families with young children”, adding that “Since 2008, the cost of childcare has risen three time faster than earnings. Childcare is as necessary for parents to get to work as the roads and rail network.”

The government currently offers 30 hours of free childcare a week, for 38 weeks per year, to parents of 3 to 4-year-olds in England, depending on circumstances. However, these circumstances are more aligned to low-income households and parents of younger children are not eligible.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s 2020 study “Is Childcare Affordable?”, which compared childcare costs and government support across over 30 countries, middle-class families with two parents earning can pay nearly double on childcare than that of a single parent receiving more support.

The OECD found that childcare costs can substantially weaken employment incentives for parents, suggesting that many parents will decide to quit work to be a stay-at-home parent instead of paying for childcare that is unaffordable.

Photo by William Fortunato from Pexels

TUC secretary general, Frances O’Grady, stated that the UK’s childcare system “is in need of complete overhaul”.

Currently the average cost of a full-time day nursery placement for children under two is over £13,700 per year. Families can find out if they are eligible for 30 hours of free childcare at Gov.uk.