One in 10 parents are ‘paying to work’ with rising childcare costs

One in ten parents are essentially ‘paying to work’ as they are spending their entire take home pay, or more, on childcare costs – according to research.

The data comes from a survey of 24,000 parents carried out by Pregnant Then Screwed. It warns that many – predominantly mums – are being forced into debt as a result of trying to maintain their careers.

This adds up when the average full-time nursery fees for a child under two is around £13,000 per year – which is more than half of a typical £33,000 salary.

Charlie, a 26-year-old from Tamworth, is one parent who is experiencing this first-hand.

The mum says: ‘I have gone back to work, but my entire paycheque is eaten up by childcare costs. 

‘The only reason I continue to work is because my little one loves nursery so much. My fiancé covers all household bills and spending money. 

‘I’ve had to delay pursuing my career for two years, and the only way I am pursuing it this year is by taking out loans to cover the cost. We are massively struggling with the costs of childcare, and always have.

‘The timing of the 30 free hours doesn’t work well for our household and pursuing my career.’

Rebecca Leppard, founder of Upgrading Women, is also feeling the strain with childcare costs.

She says: ‘The nursery bill for our daughter is the same as our monthly rent for a three-bedroom house in Southampton.

‘Any financial planner would advise against this cost of living structure. And any person with a calculator will not be able to fathom how parents can afford to live at all after paying rent and nursery.’

Joeli Brearley, founder and CEO of Pregnant Then Screwed, says that not only does this reflect a cost of living crisis in the UK, but also a ‘cost of working crisis’ – with 1 in 10 mothers now paying to go to work.

She comments: ‘This is our ultimate cry for help. Parents are at the end of their tether. Many have now left the labour market, or work fewer hours, because our childcare system has been abandoned by this Government. 

‘It’s important to remember that this isn’t just a parenting issue, this is an issue for the whole of society – we are hemorrhaging talented, skilled women from our healthcare sector, from teaching and other vital public services because of our unaffordable, dysfunctional, inaccessible childcare system. 

‘The question isn’t whether we can afford to invest in childcare, it is whether we can afford not to. Unless we want to lock parents out of the labour market entirely then we need investment and we need it now.’

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