A report by Gingerbread, the advice and support charity for single parents, has found that almost half of single parents (47%) have been forced to borrow money from family, friends or the bank in order to cover their child care costs within the last two years.
The report found that the Government’s claim that Universal Credit will make work pay is totally flawed.
In its release the organisation stated: “The report also shows that a decade old cap on the childcare costs parents can claim back means that, even with the extra help set to be rolled out under Universal Credit – where support will rise from 70 to 85 per cent of costs – for many single parents it still won’t make financial sense to work more hours.”
We know the financial strain many families face when it comes to childcare costs, but for single parents the high cost of childcare could force them out of the job market altogether- which is the reverse effect of what is intended.
In addition, it’s terrible to think that some single parents, in particular, have to turn to friends and family in order to help them cover costs, another sign that they are not receiving the support they need in order to stay in the job market.
The expense of childcare costs can be crippling for families and the financial burden is often very stressful.
Although low income parents will be able to claim up to 85% of childcare costs under Universal Credit this is capped at a limit which has remained unchanged since 2005. However, in the last 10 years, the report finds that the average cost of a part time nursery place has increase by around 70%.
Some of the respondents when interviewed shared some shocking experiences which saw them forced to ‘beg the child-minder’, ‘raid savings’, ‘take out a credit union loan’ or even ‘go without food’. Some felt that their experiences of parenthood was affected as a result and over a third said they used at least three different forms of childcare.
Many said childcare affected their ability to combine work with parenthood. Almost a third said they would work for longer with better childcare, while others described a ‘patchwork’ of assistance including not just schools, nurseries and child-minders but after-school and breakfast clubs, babysitters, grandparents and friends.
Supporting parents back into the workforce is paramount. For many parents having some form of paid employment, whatever it is, is fulfilling but for parents returning to employment, especially single parents, who may have taken a relatively long leave of absence they should be supported and encouraged not faced with barriers.