Over three-quarters have reduced their working hours due to childcare costs or availability
DATE: 28th September 2023; Today, Pregnant Then Screwed publishes new data which looks at the cost of being a parent today. The new data has uncovered ‘The £50k parent penalty’ – as one in five parents in households earning less than £50k are leaving the workforce due to the cost of childcare.
The survey asked 11,811 parents with children under 5 years old questions about the state of childcare in the UK and the impact this is having on their careers. A majority, 61% of parents, shared that they or their partner has reduced the number of hours they work due to childcare costs or availability; this increases to 67% for Asian parents and 75% for parents of disabled children. Families who have a household income of under £50k are being hit the hardest – with over three-quarters (76.6%) reducing their hours to make childcare work.
Almost half of parents (48%) cannot access the childcare they need, with 77% of those stating that this is due to cost.; whilst 47% cannot find suitable or available childcare.
The UK has one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world, with costs continuing to rise. 41% of parents have had an increase of between 5-10% in their fees; a further 14% say their fees have risen by more than 10% in the last 10 months.
Pregnant Then Screwed asked parents who have experienced a rise in their childcare costs about the impact this has had; over half of these parents responded that childcare costs and issues with availability were now “more of a concern than the cost of living”.
Joeli Brearley, Founder and CEO of Pregnant Then Screwed, comments, “When household income drops below £50k our data shows that you are statistically more likely to leave the workforce or reduce your hours. This further entrenches poverty and inequality. Our crumbling childcare sector continues to push new families into debt and onto benefits – work does not pay when you have a young child. We currently have the lowest birth rate in the last 20 years in Britain, and yet we are making it harder and harder for families to afford to have children. The cost of having a child today is one that many families cannot bear.’’
In fact, a huge 42% of parents explained that the cost and availability of childcare has prevented them from having any more children. Almost a third of parents, 29%, are now leaning on family and friends for childcare help to bridge their childcare gaps.
Joeli Brearley, Founder and CEO of Pregnant Then Screwed comments, “Childcare isn’t just a place for kids to go while their parents work; it is the earliest education for our children and plays a huge role in supporting children’s emotional and physical development. The early years practitioners who are working tirelessly for poverty wages deserve better – the government’s plan to increase the ‘free hours’ scheme for younger children will only make the availability and staffing crisis worse. There is little point in affordable childcare, if parents are unable to access it.’’
During the 2023 Spring budget, the Chancellor acknowledged the significant benefits to the economy if they deliver an affordable, accessible childcare system. Meanwhile, things are deteriorating, leaving families in a mess. The sector needs immediate investment and an ambitious workforce strategy if the promise of the budget is to be made a reality.’’
In fact, almost a quarter of parents (22.3%) have had to cut back on essential items such as food, heating or clothing to make ends meet. This rises to 47.6% for single parents and 35% for parents of deaf, disabled, neurodivergent children or children with a serious illness. Over one in four (26.1%) have had to use credit cards, borrow money or get into debt to afford increasing childcare costs.
To read the full report, head to Pregnant Then Screwed.
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About the research:
The survey was completed online between 18 August and 3rd September; there were 11,811 respondents, all parents with at least one child under 5 years.