A study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has shown that 500,000 mothers could be out of work because the childcare on offer is expensive and inflexible.

The report shows that costs have risen by 77% over the last ten years, which is double the rate of other costs. This means the average price of care is now over £100 a week.

The rate of mothers with children between the age of three and five who are in employment is 58%, below the 64% average for industrialised countries. In Sweden, a much higher 80% of mothers in this bracket are back at work.

Free Entitlement has helped parents, by providing care for 15 hours a week but, while this has relieved costs for those already in work, it's not enough of an incentive for many to choose employment over caring for their own child.

The report also noted that the restriction on the hours that families can claim Free Entitlement has impacted the figures. At the moment, it is not possible to take advantage of the scheme outside of the hours 7am - 6pm. This poses problems for those working shifts.

The rise in fees, the maximum 15 hours Free Entitlement and it's limit to daytime hours, are reflected in the statistics that 60% of earning mothers are in part time employment.

What can be done to encourage employment for mothers, without putting pressure on nurseries? Leave your comments below.


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