The impact of childcare breakdown on work

A snap childcare poll highlights the impact on work of childcare breakdowns.

reviews of policy following the general election result.

 

Nearly one in five parents whose paid childcare has broken down in the last six months have had to leave their job as a result, according to a workingmums.co.uk survey.

The pop-up survey on the workingmums.co.uk site found, however, that over half don’t use paid childcare because it is too expensive, 15% because they cannot find a place and 37% because of a mixture of cost and availability.

Of those who did use paid childcare, 10% said it had broken down in some way in the last six months. In some cases this was temporary, such as a boiler breaking. But for others it had a more lasting impact.

Nearly a quarter said it had no impact on their job. 8% said it created a minor disruption; 12% said they had to take time off work; 14% had to change their hours and 16% had to leave their job as a result.

Asked how difficult it was to find alternative childcare if this was necessary, 18% said it was fairly easy, 29% said it was difficult, 16% said it was extremely difficult and 13% said it was impossible.

The poll comes amid growing concern about rising childcare closures, particularly falling childminder figures and worries that the Government’s two-year extended childcare plan could cause childcare providers more financial problems due to historic underfunding of ‘free’ childcare for three and four year olds. A London Assembly Committee this week called for an urgent review of childcare funding rates while a Pregnant Then Screwed poll showed many parents are encountering problems registering for the extended ‘free’ childcare for two years olds.

Last week, a poll by Direct Line Life Insurance found significant numbers of parents being charged by nurseries to be put on the waiting list for early years places and for registration fees, particularly in bigger cities while Rishi Sunak’s wife donated her shares in childcare platform and childminding agency Koru Kids to charity amid worries that she might profit from new Government incentives for childcare agencies. A growing number of nursery places in England are owned by investment companies who may see a business opportunity given many parents are reliant on childcare to work. “These larger companies are…almost capitalising on the smaller ones going bust and collapsing, and they’re buying them up into the bigger chains,” says Antonia Simon, an expert in childcare financing at University College London (UCL). Meanwhile, there is mounting concern about so-called childcare deserts, generally poorer areas of the country with low numbers of early years places compared to numbers of preschool children.

Childcare, alongside flexible working, is one of the biggest barriers to mums working or working in good quality jobs with career prospects, meaning it is crucial to economic development. Childcare is likely to be one of the central issues in the general election campaign and in the lead-up to the Spring Budget.

 

 



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