Families on lower incomes and Universal Credit more affected by childcare costs

A large survey of parents shows that those on lower incomes and/or Universal Credit are significantly more likely to be in debt and use food banks due to childcare costs.

Child Playing

 

Childcare costs are forcing many families on lower incomes into debt and, in some cases, to use food banks, according to survey findings.

Figures from a huge 20,000-respondent survey created by a coalition of groups including Pregnant Then Screwed and Mumsnet show that parents who receive Universal Credit, and those whose household income is less than £20,000, are sometimes forced to take extreme measures to make ends meet while paying for childcare.

The survey shows those with a household income of less than £20,000 a year are significantly more likely to:

  • Say that because of childcare costs they’ve used food banks (16%, vs 1% of those with a household income over £20k)
  • Say that childcare costs mean they have accumulated debts (41%, vs 22% of those with a household income over £20k)
  • Say that because of childcare costs they’ve cut back on essential items such as heating, essential food or clothing, or housing costs (34%, vs 11% of those with a household income over £20k)
  • Say that their childcare costs are more than their mortgage or rent (39%, vs 33% of those with a household income over £20k)
  • Say childcare costs mean they’ve used credit cards or credit arrangements to pay for essential items (39%, vs 28% of those with a household income over £20k.

They are also more likely to say childcare costs are completely unaffordable, that they would be earning more if they had not got childcare considerations, that childcare was a major factor in them changing their working commitments, that they have stopped doing paid work altogether because of caring responsibilities, that they have undertaken work that is below their level of qualification or experience and that they support a Universal Basic Income.

There is some overlap with those who are on Universal Credit who are also significantly more likely to have used food banks (13%, vs 1% of those who have never received UC), to have cut back on essential items, say their childcare costs are more than their mortgage or rent, use credit arrangements, say childcare is unaffordable and has limited their work prospects and support a Universal Basic Income.

The new figures follow the release of the main findings of the childcare survey which shows overwhelming support for childcare to be considered core infrastructure.

In a parliamentary debate prompted by a petition calling for an independent review of the childcare system, which received over 100,000 signatures, the Government, however, rejected the calls, saying the timing was wrong because the Government is already in the midst of a broader spending review.

Vicky Ford, minister for children, said: “The government invested a significant amount in early education and childcare, including £3.5bn for each of the past three years on funding our entitlements for two, three and four-year-olds.”

She added that the Department for Education had not received any reports from local authorities saying that there was  a significant shortage of childcare places.



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