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Childcare costs mean working parents struggle to make ends meet, study claims

The high cost of childcare is leaving working parents £2,600 short of a decent standard of living every year, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has claimed.
Following its Minimum Income Standard (MIS) research – carried out by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University – JRF said that despite the increase in the national living wage, working parents are still struggling to achieve a minimum standard of living.
Although some necessities like food and fuel have become cheaper over the past two years, JRF said that one of the most significant barriers to reaching a decent standard of living is the cost of childcare.
“Parents on low incomes who have to pay for childcare are often unable to find arrangements that leave them financially better off,” JRF said.
As part of its campaign to remove poverty in the UK, being launched in September, JRF has called on the government for a radical reform of childcare.
“Having promoted greater access to childcare, the government now faces the challenge of ensuring that it truly becomes affordable and available to help ease the strain on parents’ juggling working and caring,” said Julia Unwin, chief executive at JRF.
Neil Leitch, chief executive at the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said the he recognises the struggle many families face when it comes to childcare and agrees that more needs to be done to address the problem.
“For many years now, government funding for so-called ‘free’ childcare has not covered the cost of delivery. As a result, many providers have been forced to charge parents higher fees for any additional hours they take up simply to stay afloat,” Neil said.
“Unless the government takes steps to ensure that the childcare sector is funded properly, this problem will continue. As such, we look forward to working with the new education secretary and her team to ensure that the sector is given the level of investment necessary to support childcare provision that is both affordable and high-quality, and that this investment is sustained over the long term.”