Skip To Content

870,000 mums in England can’t get the childcare they need

Save the Children estimates there are over 870,000 stay-at-home mums in England who would prefer to work if they could arrange good quality childcare which is convenient, reliable and affordable.

That’s half of all out of work mums in the country.

The figures, which are based on new analysis of the Department for Education’s Childcare and early years survey of parents in England, also show that childcare issues are the number one barrier preventing mums from working.

Save the Children research has previously found that childcare issues are costing mothers in England with children under the age of five £3.4 million in lost earnings each day. Recent evidence has shown that childcare costs are rising at twice the rate of inflation.

At the same time, almost half of parents say they have no idea or are confused about what childcare support they should even be getting.

In the North East, two thirds of all out of work mums would prefer to work if they could get the childcare they need – the highest proportion in England, followed by 56% in the West Midlands and 53% in the North West.

Region

% mums in England who would prefer to work if they could get the childcare they need, 2017 (figures released February 2018)

Number of mums in England who would prefer to work if they could get the childcare they need (to nearest 100), 2017

North East

67%

52,800

West Midlands

56%

109,900

North West

53%

104,000

South West

52%

67,500

South East

50%

124,200

East Midlands

49%

69,100

London

48%

174,800

East of England

46%

84,200

Yorkshire and the Humber

44%

86,300

England

50%

872,800

Mums say that childcare issues are the number one barrier preventing mums from working in every region except the South East and East Midlands.

Steven McIntosh, Save the Children’s Director of UK Poverty Policy, said:

“Evidence that the childcare system in England is not fit for purpose keeps mounting up. We know that families with pre-school children are hardest hit. The cost and complexity leave them stressed and struggling to make ends meet at the most important time in their children’s lives.

“The government must urgently examine how to bring down childcare costs and ensure that families, particularly those on the lowest incomes, can get the support they need. It’s time to make childcare work for families.”

Save the Children has a long history of working in England and has projects in communities across the country to help struggling parents access the basics they need at home. Working with local primary schools the charity helps busy mums and dads boost their children’s early learning at home - building their confidence and showing them how to make learning easy and fun for their children.

The charity is calling on parents to sign a petition to let the Government know reform is needed to fix the childcare system.

Notes to Editors

  • The proportion of out of work mothers who would prefer to work if they could get the childcare they need is taken from the Department for Education’s Childcare and early years survey of parents in England, 2017. (Regional figures released February 2018, national figures released December 2017). This is a biennial survey of parents with children aged 0 to 14 on their use and perception of childcare provision, and was conducted between January and August 2017. Complete data available from UK Data Service.
  • The number of out of work mothers was calculated by applying these percentages to data from the Labour Force Survey, April – June 2017. This is a quarterly survey of the employment circumstances of the UK population. Complete data available from UK Data Service.
  • ‘Lost opportunities, lost incomes’, Save the Children, 2018 found that childcare issues cost an estimated 89,000 mums of children under the age of five in England £3.4 million in lost earnings each day. Today’s analysis builds on this research using newly released figures that describe a larger group of mothers – those of children aged 0 – 14, who say they would prefer to work if they could arrange the childcare they need.
  • Nationally, families with children under the age of five make up half of all families living in poverty. Figures on families in poverty were calculated using the Family Resources Survey 2015/16. This is an annual survey providing information about the income and living circumstances of households and families in the UK. Complete data available from UK Data Service.
  • The Family and Childcare Trust, 2018, found that, “Since 2010, childcare prices overall have risen above the rate of inflation: average inflation has been about 2.3 per cent per year, and childcare price rises are about twice this”
  • Polling by the Social Mobility Commission has found that almost half (47%) of parents have no idea or were confused by the support available to them with childcare costs. The figure was higher among low income families (54%). Gulc, B. & Silversides, K. (2016) Parents’ experiences of services and information in the early years. London: Social Mobility Commission.

ENDS