Thousands of children are being pushed into poverty as working parents struggle to pay soaring childcare costs, charities have warned today.
The Government is being urged to make good on election pledges to provide families with more support, as research carried out on behalf of Gingerbread and the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) showed the children of working families in childcare are a third more likely to be pushed into poverty.
In total, 133,000 children of working parents in the UK are living below the breadline.
David Cameron’s pledge to increase the amount of free childcare for three and four-year-olds from 15 hours to 30 was one of the key announcements at the launch of the Conservative Party’s general election manifesto in April.
The Government has also set out plans to pay up to 85 per cent of childcare costs for low-income families on universal credit from next spring, an increase from the current 70 per cent available through tax credits.
But with universal credit’s rollout to families frozen for a year, and full rollout delayed until 2019, this is years away for many families, the charities said. “Without this support, work is still unlikely to pay,” the report said.
Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said the costs are having a “very real and damaging effect” on the poorest families. “Government proposals will go a long way to helping families with childcare costs – but support is years away from helping many poor families who simply can’t afford to wait,” she added.
Mother-of-two Katie Clayton, 32, of Brighouse, felt she had no choice but to give up her ten-year role at the University of Huddersfield after the birth of her second daughter Sophie, two.
“Financially it was no longer possible, as child care for both of my daughters would have been more than what I took home each month in wages,” she said.
Solicitor Rebecca Kelly, of Roundhay, Leeds, has left the law firm of which she was a partner in to go self-employed to give herself more flexibility after struggling to meet nursery costs for James, four and William, 16 months.
Even with her solicitor husband’s salary they make do without luxuries. She said: “We haven’t been on holiday abroad since the children were born and both drive beaten-up cars which could do with replacing, but there simply isn’t the money. We’re just going to have to grit our teeth until the children are older.”
Child Poverty Action Group’s chief executive Alison Garnham said: “Despite recent progress, childcare costs still make it hard for low income working families to enter or progress in paid work.”
A Government spokesman said: “We are absolutely on the side of hard-working families who want to get on in life. Thanks to Government reforms, the number of children growing up in workless families is at a record low. We want to make high quality, affordable childcare available for everyone – that is why we are introducing 30 free hours of childcare per week for three and four-year-olds.”