September 16, 2021

Survey of over 20,000 working parents finds that UK childcare is “too expensive”

Survey of over 20,000 working parents finds that UK childcare is “too expensive”

A survey shared with The Guardian has found that the childcare system in the UK is “financially crippling, hinders careers and needs radical overall [sic].” The study, which is based on information from over 20,000 working parents, has found that 97% of participants find childcare too expensive. One-third of parents also said that they are paying more for childcare than their rent or mortgage. This number rises to 38% for both parents in full-time work or single parents, and to 47% of participants from a black ethnic background.

Data from the OECD reveals that the UK has the third most expensive childcare system in the world with the average cost of a full-time place being £12,376. At the same time, further research by Nursery World has found that one in ten childcare workers is living in poverty. The working parents survey has also identified that those who have the lowest incomes, are on universal credit, are single parents, have disabilities, or have a black ethnic background, struggle the most.

In addition, IZA World of labor author Daniela Vuri has found that high childcare costs can be a disincentive to entering the labor force. In her article she highlights that “in some countries, [childcare] costs can take up 50% of the average wage. Family policies that provide sufficient, affordable childcare, particularly to working mothers with young children, could encourage maternal labor force participation.”

The survey also discovered that 56% of parents heavily rely on family, most often on grandparents, for help when it comes to childcare. Giulio Zanella, IZA World of Labor contributor, has looked into how grandparent childcare affects labor supply and has found that it helps young working mothers but it can reduce the labor supply of older women. Additionally “such childcare arrangements may reduce the mobility of younger workers and the labor supply of older workers, especially women,” he writes in his article.

Findings from the survey back Zanella’s research on the topic. It was identified that the lack of access to childcare is preventing progress on gender equality. The statistics show that only 16% of women agree that childcare doesn’t affect their seniority or wages, compared with 42% of men. Furthermore, 83% of the female respondents said that childcare costs and availability impacted mothers more than fathers, and 41% of male respondents said that it affected both parties equally. Two-thirds of women also found that they had to reduce their working hours after having a baby, compared with 26% of men.

Read Daniela Vuri’s article Do childcare policies increase maternal employment? and Giulio Zanella’s article How does grandparent childcare affect labor supply?