Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar

With rising prices and stagnating wages, there couldn’t be a worse time for working families to have their support for childcare cut, writes Felicity Dennistoun.

By the Resolution Foundation’s Felicity Dennistoun

The survey (pdf) published yesterday by the Daycare Trust and Save the Children was a stark reminder of the soaring costs of childcare and the impact they are having on family budgets. Fifty eight per cent of parents in severe poverty said they were no better off working once they’d paid for childcare; 41% said they were considering giving up work due to the reduction of the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit.

These findings not only undermine the government’s pledge to ‘make work pay’, but highlight the effect of high childcare costs on the economy as a whole.

When childcare costs soar, working parents are left stuck between a rock and a hard place: either cut back in other areas or get into debt just to stay in work. Neither option bodes well for our economic recovery.

The effect of high childcare costs on employment is particularly worrying right now – and even more so for women. Eighty five per cent of second earners in the UK are women, and it is they who are most likely to leave their jobs or reduce their hours because work doesn’t pay.

The entrance of millions of women into the labour force has been a vital contributor to living standards for families in recent years. The lack of affordable childcare provision therefore has serious long-term consequences, as families struggle to deal with rising costs and stagnating wages.

And for the government, of course, those forced to leave their jobs or cut back on their hours represent lost revenue in income tax.

Yet despite these major worries, the government’s current plans may make things worse. In April this year the government reduced the amount families can claim towards childcare costs through the Working Tax Credit from 80 to 70 per cent.

This has already meant an average loss of £436, with some families losing as much as £1,300 a year. On current plans, though, the situation is set to get worse when Universal Credit is implemented in 2013.

Although for the first time parents working less than 16 hours a week will be entitled to support, the overall budget for childcare will stay the same; in other words, there’ll be the same amount of money, spread between more people.

That means parents who already receive the benefit will lose out. In May the Resolution Foundation published Childcare Support and the Hours Trap (pdf), which reveals the full extent of the problem: a single parent on the minimum wage would have just £3 a week more in her purse if she decided to increase from 3 days to 4 days of work.

With rising prices and stagnating wages, there couldn’t be a worse time for working families to have their support for childcare cut. When childcare costs soar and help is cut, we are leaving parents without the means to improve their own standards of living, and that of their children.

31 Responses to “Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar”

  1. Joseph Burnett

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar: http://t.co/msjFpub by @ResFoundation’s @FDennistoun

  2. Tim Easton

    “@leftfootfwd: Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar: http://t.co/38HdP9n by @ResFoundation’s @FDennistoun” shocking

  3. festinagirl

    “@leftfootfwd: Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar: http://t.co/38HdP9n by @ResFoundation’s @FDennistoun” shocking

  4. ResolutionFoundation

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar – blog via @leftfootfwd by @fdennistoun http://t.co/RdFott1

  5. Felicity Dennistoun

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar – blog via @leftfootfwd by @fdennistoun http://t.co/OX0bTqx

  6. Sarah Hammond

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar – blog via @leftfootfwd by @fdennistoun http://t.co/OX0bTqx

  7. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar http://t.co/0r4Lfdo

  8. False Economy

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar http://t.co/nhHXiWG by @fdennistoun @leftfootfwd #falseeconomy

  9. albybarber

    RT @leftfootfwd: Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar http://t.co/lGyFf1K

  10. Political Planet

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar: With rising prices and stagnating wages, there couldn’t be a… http://t.co/WpQAZLq

  11. janet ewan

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar http://t.co/nhHXiWG by @fdennistoun @leftfootfwd #falseeconomy

  12. Angus Carruthers

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar http://t.co/nhHXiWG by @fdennistoun @leftfootfwd #falseeconomy

  13. Watching You

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar http://t.co/nhHXiWG by @fdennistoun @leftfootfwd #falseeconomy

  14. Michael

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar l Left Foot Forward – http://j.mp/ppJxDZ

  15. tracy e

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar l Left Foot Forward – http://j.mp/ppJxDZ

  16. Paul

    As a social enterprise childcare provider, I can confirm from locally what’s happening nationally. Over the summer, as people got their tax credit letters telling them what they were losing, we had a spate of withdrawn bookings from people who had done the sums and decided they just couldn’t afford to go out to work.

    Clearly this hits us hard as well and while we’re ok at the moment there may be a time when a number of jobs also become at risk.

  17. Anti-Cuts Alliance

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar: http://t.co/msjFpub by @ResFoundation’s @FDennistoun

  18. Beth Hurrell

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar – blog via @leftfootfwd by @fdennistoun http://t.co/RdFott1

  19. Ann Lawson

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar l Left Foot Forward – http://j.mp/ppJxDZ

  20. Patricia Farrington

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar l Left Foot Forward – http://j.mp/ppJxDZ

  21. Alex Snowdon

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar http://t.co/sQVyVwz

  22. Mr. Sensible

    The Coalition say they want to make work pay, but this isn’t being matched by their actions.

    I heard on the radio yesterday that, because of this, families are cutting back on things such as swimming lessons; bad news for childrens’ health.

    This is a setback for helping people back in to work, this is a setback for equality since most of those effected are women, and it, combined with the tax bribe for married couples, shows a government looking to promote the right’s preferred family arangement by stealth.

    The government should seriously think again.

  23. Leon Wolfson

    Yup. Do you really think that people will take short-term or part-time jobs and trigger HB reassessments after they drop the bottom out of the rates for that either?

  24. Daniel Weichman

    Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar http://t.co/nhHXiWG by @fdennistoun @leftfootfwd #falseeconomy

  25. Kevin Richards

    "Many working parent are stuck between a rock and a hard place" Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar http://t.co/aJyS0RK

  26. timple

    Someone better tell the DFE to stop the endless regulation for Early years. You now have to have qualified teachers to supervise children during their playtime or a staff child ratio of 1:6 or so for those not so expert. Note i am talking of the kids play here not their structured learning periods. I am sure whoever had the idea had the best of intentions but didn’t consider the cost implications. It goes on and on.

  27. Leon Wolfeson

    Of course timple, the poor kids don’t deserve proper supervision based on the best evidence about how to manage kids.

  28. Romaine Dennistoun

    RT @leftfootfwd: Childcare double whammy: help is cut as costs soar http://t.co/kFWMKCox

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