March 8, 2023

Childcare Costs are Rising Faster Than Inflation - Why Mothers Are NOT Returning To Work

It is not a hidden fact that childcare costs have risen significantly in the UK. They have been rising faster than inflation since 2008 (BBC) and the UK was ranked as the second highest country for childcare costs (OECD).

New statistics released by Pregnant Then Screwed through their ‘Cry for help’ campaign evidences how 75% of mothers who use formal childcare believe it does not make financial sense for them to work. This is because 1 in 4 parents who do use formal childcare stated 75% of their income is used to cover childcare bills. In addition, the percentage of parents who rely on some kind of debt to cover childcare costs is 32%. As a result of the UKs child care cost crisis, the gender pay gap has also been affected with women being seen as the ‘optional parent’ working reduced hours. The 2022 Gender Pay Gap report found the percentage of women working part time has increased from 7% to 28% and the percentage of women offered part time hours is higher than the percentage for men further emphasising the traditional ideology of a stay at home mother and a full-time working breadwinner father. However, people are not earning enough for this; research from NCT, found roughly 50% of new dads felt they were the sole economic provider as well as balancing fatherhood. 

<span id="test" class="kool-class" style="color: #00c0c3;" fs-test-element="test">"When I was trying to go back to work after having a baby, childcare was the main reason for me to either go back part time, or not go back at all. "</span>

Not only does improper childcare funding disproportionately affect women, not going back to work results in losing skills, not being up to date with knowledge and expertise, and can often set back career progression and promotion. This will have a knock on effect on the skilled workforce available. According to Fast Company this further widens the pay gap as women returning to the workforce after a period of leave experience a significant pay difference.

Whilst our society requires at least some of us to have children the economy provides no structure for that increasing gender inequality - women who return to work can be seen as a potential burden, whereas men are often considered ‘heroic’ for being parents. Research from NCT showcased how a staggering percentage of employers were not offering flexible hours for new mothers and new fathers (35% for women and 47% for men). Furthermore, 25% of men surveyed felt that employers should have more support in place for working parents such as flexible working hours and childcare schemes. 

<span id="test" class="kool-class" style="color: #00c0c3;" fs-test-element="test">It's a catch 22 though as well isn't it as you go part time to look after the child but earning less so the ratio ends up the same for childcare expenditure” </span>

Childcare does have benefits as it significantly helps with the development of children however within the current economic climate it has become increasingly expensive and inaccessible. 

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