According to trade union body research from the TUC, childcare costs have risen seven times faster than wages. On average, parents in England with a one-year-old paid 48% more between 2008 and 2016, whereas wages have only increased by 12% in that timeframe. Single parents have been hit the hardest, spending 20% of their wages on childcare.
The TUC stated that whilst working parents of three and four-year-olds receive financial help from the Government, most parents with one-year-olds receive no such help. Many nurseries and childminders have now closed or are struggling because the funding is inadequate and their workload and obligations have increased.
The Government has said how it has doubled the funded childcare available to working parents of three and four-year-olds.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “There is a real gap in childcare support for one-year-olds until government assistance kicks in at age two.
“Parents need subsidised, affordable childcare from as soon as maternity leave finishes to enable them to continue working, and so mums don’t continue to have to make that choice between having a family and a career.”
One mother, who has three children, has stated how it would have been “absolutely pointless” for her to return to work after having twins.
“We looked at the sums and the cost of the childcare for three children under three would have just been crippling.”
The figures have also suggested that two working parents with a one-year-old will be spending 11% of their wages on childcare in 2016, which is a rise from the 8% in 2008.
Ms O’Grady has stated how the picture for single parents was “even worse”.
Single parents working full time with a one-year-old who is in nursery for 21 hours a week spend more than 21% of wages on childcare in 2016, which is up from the 17% in 2008.
Childminders have said how the 30 hours is forcing them to close or reduce their numbers.
Heidi Stuart says how regulations and Ofsted requirements have increased workloads which means that childminding is “far beyond simply caring for a child”:
“We are constantly having to undergo and update training related to safety, development and information, the cost of which is from our own pockets and not subsidised or paid for by parents/government.
“As self-employed people, we are simply trying to earn a living and support our families.
“It is an enigma to me why some parents feel that childcare is ‘expensive’ when we are caring and nurturing their children, the future generation.”
Robert Goodwill, the children and families minister, has said how the Government has saved parents “thousands a year” and helped them “get back into work” by doubling the ‘free’ childcare from 15 to 30 hours a week for three and four-year-olds.
Ellen Broome, the chief executive of the Family and Childcare Trust, said that the cost meant “it does not pay to work” for many parents.
She stated how families from a low income who claim universal credit take home £1.96 an hour after childcare costs have been paid.
Helen Bryce, who works full time, explained that childcare was a “constant juggle”.
She explained how her husband was now taking a career break to spend time with the children and that they also use a childminder. She said how when they used a nursery the costs were “astronomical”.
“I know at one stage we had our children, we had three young children, all in nursery part time. Our costs were over £1,500 a month, which was more than I was making.”