One in 10 parents of young children ‘working for free’ due to childcare costs

Ten per cent of working parents of children under five are effectively working for nothing because of childcare costs, according to a survey by insurance company Aviva.

The company’s bi-annual Family Finances Report shows that one in 10 families paying childcare costs for youngsters aged 0-5 effectively see one earner bring home nothing from his or her job after childcare and work costs are taken into account. One in four families with kids under five has one parent who brings home less than £100 a month after childcare costs.

The company surveyed 2,000 families with children aged 0-5 and discovered that, for all who paid for childcare, the median amount left over from the lower earner’s salary is just £243 a month.

Four per cent of women surveyed also said they are ‘paying to work’, because their costs are greater than the income they bring in.

Almost half of UK parents with children aged 0-5 said they use childcare to enable them to go out to work. Five out of six (84%) of these parents say they pay for at least some of their childcare.

The most popular form of childcare for these parents is paid-for nurseries / out of school clubs used by 56% of those using childcare. However, the second most popular form of childcare is care provided by grandparents or family members, who help out one in three families.

The research shows that parents choose to work while their children are young for many reasons: for mental stimulation, child development and fear of career stagnation if they take time off. A third believe that children will develop quicker or learn more in a childcare setting, while 30% say they enjoy the intellectual challenge and social interaction of work. A further 27% say that they feel that working outside the home makes them a better, more rounded parent. Meanwhile, 13% say that they work in a competitive industry so don’t want to take too much time off work.

Louise Colley, protection director at Aviva, said: “Aviva’s findings paint a picture of a nation of parents struggling to keep their heads, and careers, above water in the face of rising childcare costs. There are many benefits to going to work including, in some cases better mental health for the parent and good developmental growth for children in good childcare settings.

“Parents clearly value all of these benefits, and yet it is frustrating for them to feel that, in some cases they are working for nothing once high childcare costs are taken into account. It is vital that the government and employers understand the circumstances and needs of these parents.”

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