Work time suffers as parents try to cope with costs

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 28 March 2014 Updated: 28/03 09:01

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PARENTS are being forced to cut their working hours because of the cost of childcare.

The Standard has been asking readers to tell us about their experience of childcare and many say they are unable to work full-time because they cannot afford to put their child into a nursery with others saying they would actually be better off staying at home.

The Government announced in last week’s budget from September next year parents paying 80 per cent of the cost of childcare up to £10,000 per child would get the remaining 20 per cent paid for them.

But Rebecca Blake, Labour Parliamentary spokeswoman for Redditch, spoke to shoppers in Tesco after the budget was announced and said the Government was still not doing enough.

“I back Labour’s plans to guarantee wrap around childcare before and after school for primary school aged children. This move will benefit around 5,500 children in the constituency and their families.”

She added a Labour Government would provide ten extra hours of free childcare provision for working parents of three and four year olds, paid for by an increase in the bank levy.

“This would reduce the number of parents giving up work due to the cost of childcare and potentially increase their wages. Its preferable to have an increase in free childcare than the government’s proposal of having to find the money to pay out and then hoping to qualify for discount.”

But MP Karen Lumley said the Government was committed to helping families who wanted to ‘work hard and get on’.

“The rising cost of childcare is one of the biggest challenges that parents in Redditch and up and down the country face today. This is why the Government is introducing tax free childcare, to help families with their childcare costs and provide financial security for the future,” she said.

“I have met many parents in my constituency who wish to return to work but feel unable to because of high childcare costs. That is why this policy aims to help those individuals get back into work, by offering help towards childcare costs.”

Parents' views:

Karen Barrett, a mother of two from Church Hill, said: “I’m lucky because my mum and dad have the kids when I’m at work. I can see why people do give up work though because of the cost. When you’re working just to cover the childcare costs and not having much left at the end of it, what’s the point? I think a lot of people would benefit from an increase in free childcare.”

Leah Marie, who has a two-year-old daughter and is from Crabbs Cross, said: “I send my child to nursery for 12 hours a week which costs me £280 a month. That’s all I can afford on top of my monthly bills because it is just too expensive to live in Redditch. I don’t meet the free childcare for her as I work 27 hours a week.”

Semya Smith, who also has a two-year-old daughter and lives in Brockhill, pays £500 for 30 hours a week. She has reduced her hours at work and also has help from her mother. The costs are a strain financially and there are times when you do question the fact that you are working purely to pay for someone else to look after your child. Having said that I also feel that it is highly important for my child to attend nursery as it is a key part of her development.”

Emily Taylor, from Headless Cross, has help from her parents to look after her one-year-old daughter three days a week while she returns to work. I cannot go back to work full-time as I would be asking too much of them for five days and there is no way we could afford to pay nursery fees. I think people who don’t work seem to benefit a lot more than people who are trying to work and cover the costs of nursery.”

Jonathan Deavs from Batchley has continued working full-time while his girlfriend has had to reduce her ours. I’ve stayed working full-time but she only went back to work part-time while her mother looks after our two-year-old son. We couldn’t dream of affording to put him in a childcare placement.”

Danielle Greenhill-Bull from Brockhill has a five-year-old son and said it was unfair she no longer qualified for help after moving in with her partner. Her mother helps out with childcare and she pays £32 a week in term time for two after-school days and £80 during the holidays. I find it frustrating the Government expects a new partner to carry a family as soon as they move into a property with a partner who has a child, it’s a huge responsibility. As a woman it’s hard for me to expect my partner to pay equal amounts for my son’s childcare and so I feel like I’m putting this pressure on him myself but in reality I don’t have a choice.”

Kelly Whitehouse has a two-year-old daughter and pays £660 a month for childcare. I’m happy to pay for quality childcare as I’m aware of the growth and independence it can give to my child but some concession for making the step back into full time employment will give a little financial respite.”

Studley based Teresa Jones said a quarter of her salary goes on childcare a month for her six-year-old and four-year-old. Both of my parents are still working full-time and cannot help out. Looking at the figures we would be better off on benefits staying at home.”

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