‘Low pay, high childcare costs and lack of progression holding parents back at work’

Nursery, childcare, childminder


Low and middle-income parents want to work, want permanent jobs with a sense of purpose and put a premium on job security –  but inadequate pay, a lack of affordable childcare and poor opportunities for progression are holding them back, according to a new survey by Child Poverty Action Group and Working Families.

The survey of over 1,000 parents whose household income is less than £30,000 p.a found more than two fifths (43%) of part-time workers want to work more hours but are prevented from doing so with childcare costs and more hours not being available being among the top reasons. Almost half [47%] were struggling to support their families and almost one third (32%) of working parents, particularly younger parents, said they didn’t have enough work to support their family.

Job Security

The survey also showed 71% of working parents want permanent jobs. Almost three quarters (74%) ranked job security as very important to them, including 36% who gave this the highest possible score of ‘extremely important’.  Similarly, 74% cited pay as very important, including 34% who said it was extremely important to them.

Hours worked in a job were also a top priority for 72%, (especially women, 36% of whom gave hours worked a top score, compared to 17% of men). 61% rated flexible working as a top priority and opportunities for career progression were a top priority for half of working parents. Just over one quarter (26%) said their job didn’t offer good opportunities for progression.

The survey also showed parents returning to the workforce after having a child are struggling to retain their previous pay level and job grade. Almost half (47%) had to take a salary drop, 43% had to take a lower position and 45% said inflexible hours or work schedules were a problem.

Moreover, a third of working parents said they work too much and don’t’ have enough time with family. The highest priorities for greater work life balance were security of income, a higher salary and more flexible hours/schedule.

Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham said a first step to supporting working parents on low and middle incomes would be for the Chancellor “to pause and fix universal credit and restore its ability to make work pay for families”.

 The study coincides with a report out today from the Institute for Fiscal Studies which forecasts that absolute child poverty will increase by around 4 percentage points by 2021-22 and that around three-quarters (equivalent to 400,000 children) is attributable to benefit changes.

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