‘I took out a £10k loan to pay for childcare’: crippling costs force women out of work

The problem is not a new one, but the pandemic has compounded the issue and campaigners have warned that not enough is being done by the Government to support families.

Funding has failed to match the costs of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders for years, said Neil Leitch, of the charity Early Years Alliance. The most recent Budget allocated more money to plug the gap of rising childcare costs – an additional 17p per hour per child aged between three and four and 21p for two year olds.

This is nowhere near the amount needed, he warned.

“As a result, early years providers have had no choice but to increase fees to try and make up for this long-running funding shortfall, or risk going out of business altogether.

“These cost increases have hit the parents of younger children, who are not eligible for any government funding, particularly hard and has meant that for many mothers, returning to work after maternity leave simply isn’t affordable.”

Coram Family and Childcare, a charity, found that costs for children aged two are 5pc more than a year ago. This is in part due to a 35pc rise in nursery closures as a result of funding shortages and the pandemic, according to the National Day Nurseries Association.

Joeli Brearley, of campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed, said: “As a result, women are working fewer hours to try and balance care and their career is being derailed in the process. It has huge long-term implications on income, pensions and mental health.”

When Hannah Jackson, 39, and her partner found out she was pregnant with twins, they made the move from Essex to Somerset to be closer to family who could help with childcare.

“I was managing a shop and childcare was so expensive that the total cost was more than I could bring home in a salary. My partner’s salary was better than mine so it made more financial sense for me to stop working instead.

“I have always earned my own money, ever since my first job at 15, so it was really tough,” said Ms Jackson.

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