Friday, 16 September 2011

How the hell does anyone afford childcare these days?

The latest results from an investigation conducted by the charity Save the Children has revealed that Britain's poorest families can no longer afford childcare and are leaving jobs because of soaring costs. Here in Scotland we actually pay a higher amount than the rest of the UK. We are by no means that near the breadline but the fees for even the cheapest childcare in the city to allow me to work full time would cost around £200 a week minimum just for B. Given that I would be entering something at an entry level wage that is over a third of a monthly wage. This sad reality means that I will have to come up with another plan or live as we are until B goes to school. It has also impacted on our major decisions in life and we have decided to have no more children as that would just double the amount we would pay. Living hand to mouth is not the reality we want for our kids.The government needs to do something about this. There needs to be more assistance for families who work if they ever expect people to stop relying on benefits. 

Parents in Britain spend almost a third of their incomes on childcare – more than anywhere else in the world - and such high costs have the greatest consequences for the poorest families.
Of those families in severe poverty, nearly half have cut back on food to afford childcare and 58% said they were or would be no better off working once childcare is paid for.
The cut to the working tax credit has also dealt a massive blow to hard working families struggling in severe poverty with four in ten of those affected considering giving up work because they will no longer earn enough to cover the childcare bill.
The cut has added on average £500 per year onto the childcare bill for half a million families.
Other key findings in the survey, which we commissioned along with the Daycare Trust were:
  • A quarter of parents in severe poverty have given up work and a third have turned down a job mainly because of high childcare costs – more than twice as likely as better off parents.   
  • Of those parents in severe poverty and currently in paid employment the majority (80%) agreed with the statement “Once I have paid for childcare, I am in a similar position to as if I was not working”.
  • The majority of parents living in severe poverty (61%) said they were struggling to pay for childcare compared to around a third of parents on higher incomes (37%).  
  • Families in severe poverty were twice as likely as better off families to move home because of the high costs of childcare.
  • 26% of parents in severe poverty have been unable to take up education or training because of high childcare costs.
  • 63% of parents, regardless of income, say they can’t afford not to work but struggle to pay for childcare.
  • The costs of childcare are on a par with 41% of families mortgage or rent payments.
  •  A quarter of parents, regardless of incomes, said the cost of childcare has caused them to get into debt.
We and the Daycare Trust are calling on the government to increase the amount they plan to spend on childcare support under the new universal credit - to pay up to 80% of childcare costs for low income families - in a bid to prevent low income families from being priced out of work and into poverty. 
Sally Copley, Save the Children’s Head of Poverty, said: “The government is undermining its own ‘make work pay’ policy by not funding the costs of childcare for the poorest families.

Priced out of work

"Childcare in the UK is amongst the most expensive in the world and families on low incomes simply don’t earn enough to cover the costs and are being priced out of work as a result.
"The recent cut to the working tax credit has only made this worse with many parents realising they are no better off working and they and their children remain trapped in poverty.
"The government must give the poorest parents a chance to work their way above the poverty line. We know that the best way out of child poverty is to help parents into work.”


  1. I agree in general that childcare is expensive and it's very hard to go back to work especially if you have more than one child but childminders don't actually earn that much per hour per child - way less than minimum wage for pretty hard work.

    I went back to work when my 1st child was 11mths and it was worthwhile money wise but I couldn't go back after my 2nd because I would have had nothing left of my wage after childcare. I'm not lucky enough to have retired grandparents close by to watch my kids so I have to wait til both kids are at school before I can return to work.

    But I did childmind for a while so I could earn and stay home with my kids. Because I already had 2 kids under 5 I was only allowed one extra child and only earned £3.50 p/h. When I have to provide food and and entertainment and have evidence for all the activities I do and other bits and pieces the Care Commission need, £3.50 really isn't much.

    Hopefully there will be changes made to the way things are at the moment in this country.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment Becks. I'm going through the process of becoming a childminder too and it's incredibly hard work for very little money. 

    It's so hard to know which way to turn when you're limited in your choices. 


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