Childcare costs hit poor families
Britain's poorest families are turning down jobs or are considering leaving work because they cannot afford to pay for childcare, new research has shown.
Parents spend almost a third of their incomes on childcare - more than anywhere else in the world, according to research by charities Save the Children and Daycare Trust.
For four out of 10 families (41%) the cost of childcare is on a par with mortgage or rent payments, the study shows.
Of those families in severe poverty, nearly half have cut back on food to afford childcare and nearly six in 10 (58%) said they were or would be no better off working once childcare is paid for.
The research found that parents, regardless of income, cannot afford not to work but struggle to pay for childcare and despite many parents cutting back their spending, almost a quarter have got into debt because of childcare costs.
Cuts to the working tax credit have hit families struggling in severe poverty, the charities said. Four in 10 of those affected have considered giving up work because they will no longer earn enough to cover the childcare bill.
The cut has added on average £500 per year on to the childcare bill of low income families, the research found. A quarter of parents in severe poverty have given up work and a third have turned down a job mainly because of high childcare costs.
Of those parents in severe poverty and currently in paid employment the majority (80%) agreed with the statement "Once I have paid for childcare, I am in a similar position to as if I was not working".
Fiona Weir, chief executive of Gingerbread, the charity which supports single parents, said: "This research confirms that current Government plans for childcare are a ticking time-bomb for welfare reform.
"Unless more investment is found for childcare support, working single parents will find it increasingly difficult to make work pay."