‘Third of parents of under fives say they can’t afford to have more children’

A new survey by Pregnant Then Screwed finds many parents feel unable to extend their families due to childcare costs and availability.

Small child playing with brightly coloured bricks on the floor in a childcare setting


Almost a third of parents with a child under five say they are unable to afford to have any more children due to the high cost and availability of childcare, according to a survey by Pregnant Then Screwed.

One in 10 (13%) of the 11K parents surveyed said that they or their partner have had to leave their job due to childcare affordability and availability, with 57% having to reduce their hours and their earnings. Just over half (56.3%) of parents of a child under five feel they have all the childcare they need; for families with a household income of less than £40k, just 42% believe they have all the childcare they need while just 37% of those not currently not in employment are happy with their childcare arrangements. Eighty per cent of those who can’t meet their childcare needs said it was because they simply cannot afford it.

The survey finds parents are facing financial pressure from the moment they have their children, due to the low rate of maternity and paternity pay. With the cost of living crisis and bills going up, just 29.1% of those who are pregnant or have a child under 12 months old are taking as much maternity or paternity leave as they would like. Of those reducing their leave, a fifth (19.7%)  said that they would only be taking six months or less maternity or paternity leave and 5% will be taking less than three months.

Joeli Brearley, Founder and CEO of Pregnant Then Screwed, said: “The UK is running out of babies, which will ultimately lead to a shortage of workers and further economic decline as the population gets older. It’s a ticking time bomb that politicians need to get a grip of right now, yet we’ve seen inertia from the current Government, who seem to only focus on the immediate future.”

The other issue that parents face is childcare availability in their local area, with a quarter of parents (22.9%) saying that there are no childcare places available to them within a 10-mile radius of where they live. For half of parents who do not have all the childcare they would like, availability is the problem. Just over eight per cent have experienced the closure of a formal childcare setting they were using in the last 12 months. Additionally, 11% of parents said that their childcare provider has had to reduce the times they operate and 52% of parents have had to reduce their working hours as a result.

The survey also showed that 44% of parents said that their childcare day rates had increased by between 5 and 10% in the last 10 months and 18% have seen their childcare rates increase by 11% or more in the last 10 months.

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