Sarah Champion MP reports on Labour's plans to tackle the rising cost of childcare.
Picture this. You’re a mum, working full time, with two young children. You earn nearly £12,000. You’ve got a partner who also works full time, earning the same as you. You’ve recently returned to work after having a career break to spend the last two years raising your children. During that time, you’ve found it hard to survive on one income alone, so you felt it was time to return to work to help bring money in for the family.
Imagine your horror, then, when you realise that after you’ve paid out your childcare costs and your other bills, you’re bringing home just over £4 a week in additional income. Just £211 per year. That’s the shocking reality for many working families under this government, and it’s a reality that should not be allowed to continue.
Recent reports have shown that the cost of childcare prevents more than two thirds of mums working more. And over 33% of full time mums say they’d like to work but can’t afford to due to childcare. That’s not all: the figures show that one in five working mums want to take on 10 extra hours of work, but the cost of childcare is stopping them doing so.
Shamefully, Britain lags behind our international counterparts on getting mums that choose to, back to work. In the UK, about two thirds of our mums are in some form of paid work, but internationally, up to 86% of mums are able to return to work. This is a real concern: it tells us that mums who want to work are struggling with getting back to work. We know that the cost of childcare is the major factor preventing them from doing so.
This government is failing to tackle the cost of childcare, and they are failing women and families. They’re failing women who want to get back on the career ladder, and find it harder to pick up where they left off, the longer they have been away from the workplace. They’re failing families, because the risk of child poverty in families with only one earner is significantly higher than for families where two people are working. It’s time for David Cameron to face the facts: childcare costs are the single biggest obstacle to getting women back to work, and his government has no plan to help in this parliament.
That’s why I’m proud of the work Labour have done through their policy review, showing their commitment to women and families everywhere.
Under a Labour Government, mums will see the free childcare allowance increase from 15 hours to 25 hours, which will give them the freedom to get back to work if they choose. We’re also giving a legal guarantee to parents with primary-aged children that they can access before and after-school childcare through their school – from 8am until 6pm – to help parents balance work and family life. Through the policy review, we’ve also heard many mums say that they’re concerned about the quality of the childcare they receive. Labour is committed to delivering affordable and flexible high quality childcare.
It’s clear to me that under this government, women and families are suffering. Labour’s plans will put an end to this, and make sure parents have the freedom to make the choices that are right for their families, and no longer feel constrained by the cost of childcare.
Sarah Champion tweets @SarahChampionMP.