The Government should urgently increase the proportion of childcare costs covered through Universal Credit from 70 to 80 per cent, according to a report from children’s charity Barnardo’s.
Barnardo’s Paying to Work report says 18% of the UK’s children are living in poverty and that it is impossible for some of the UK’s poorest families to ‘strive’ their way out of poverty due to high childcare costs that, it states, leave many parents earning nothing or even effectively paying for the privilege of working extra hours.
It says that while all three and four year olds, and many disadvantaged two year olds, are entitled to fifteen hours of free early years education, parents wishing to work longer hours face paying for childcare at the same time as having their benefits reduced, and starting to pay tax. “This combination will potentially leave some parents with very little money left over,” says the report.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Anne Marie Carrie, says: The Government’s claim that work will pay for the UK’s most disadvantaged families under Universal Credit is simply wrong.
“Leaving the poorest without sufficient means to pay for childcare ironically risks pricing precisely those families who are in greatest need of the extra income out of work.
“If we want the poorest parents to be genuinely able to work their way out of poverty, then they must be able to afford the costs of childcare. This is why we’re calling on the government to provide more help to the most disadvantaged families”.
Barnardo’s Paying to Work report reveals:
– Lone parents with two preschool children will potentially have to pay to go to work. A lone parent with two preschool children living in London will pay £1.61 per hour more than they earn if they work 28 hours or more.
– Lone parents with only one preschool child still face losing substantial amounts of pay for extra hours worked. For each extra hour worked between 16 and 24, a lone parent with one preschool child on the National Minimum Wage, would potentially gain only £1.10.