PARENTS DRIVEN INTO ‘CHILDCARE DEBT’ URGE ALL PARTIES TO FOLLOW LABOUR’S LEAD ON CHILDCARE REFORMS
Save the Children, 21st November
“Many of us have been forced into debt -- taking out high-interest loans, falling into rent arrears or selling our cars to pay nursery fees. "
Parents have welcomed Labour’s commitment to scrapping upfront childcare costs, announced today in the party’s election manifesto.
In a message to all political parties, a group of ordinary working mums from across the country – dubbed the ‘Mums on a Mission’ – welcome Labour’s pledge and urge the other main parties to follow suit in scrapping upfront costs, which they say have pushed them into ‘childcare debt’.
Under Universal Credit – the government’s flagship welfare reform programme – parents have to pay for childcare costs upfront, before waiting to be reimbursed up to a month later. Save the Children has warned that many parents are being forced to take out loans to cover the shortfall, or even give up work altogether.
In the message, the parents say they have had to resort to “desperate measures” to pay for childcare as a result of upfront costs.
“Many of us have been forced into debt -- taking out high-interest loans, falling into rent arrears or selling our cars to pay nursery fees. We’ve had to resort to desperate measures – cutting back on essentials or relying on foodbanks, living off cereals or going without meals ourselves so that our children can eat. Some of us have even had to give up good jobs we love because we can’t afford childcare.”
A petition started by the mums, urging the government to scrap upfront costs, has now received more than 103,000 signatures.
There are 44,000 families in England currently getting support with childcare through Universal Credit. This is set to rise to 500,000 families when Universal Credit is eventually rolled out.
Katie Till, Senior Government Relations Advisor at Save the Children, said:
“It's simply not right that families are being driven into debt or forced to turn down work because of childcare fees. We welcome Labour’s commitment to supporting low-income families by paying childcare costs in advance, and echo parents’ calls for all political parties to follow suit. Whichever government is elected into Number 10 in December must commit to solving the problem of upfront costs, before more families are pushed into debt and hardship.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
The full message to all political parties from the Mums on a Mission:
As working mums, we are proud to do one of the most important jobs in the world. We pack lunchboxes, wipe noses and nurture the talent of this country’s future innovators, changemakers, teachers and politicians.
At the same time, we are making our own mark. We are executives, entrepreneurs, advisors, nurses and administrators. Raising young children at the same time can be a struggle, but we want to work. We want to grow our skills and boost our incomes. Most importantly, we want to be role models and give our children the best possible start in life.
Like many single parents, we rely on childcare. It allows us to go to work. But it’s expensive: The cost of childcare is steep, and with monthly fees as high as £1,000, we’re struggling. To make matters worse, under Universal Credit we are forced us to pay these eye-watering childcare bills in advance, and wait up to a month to be reimbursed.
As a result, many of us have been forced into debt -- taking out high-interest loans, falling into rent arrears or selling our cars to pay nursery fees. We’ve had to resort to desperate measures – cutting back on essentials or relying on foodbanks, living off cereals or going without meals ourselves so that our children can eat. Some of us have even had to give up good jobs we love because we can’t afford childcare.
We’re not alone. Up and down the country, thousands of low-income parents like us have been left feeling that the system is stacked against us. We know this because our petition calling on the government to scrap upfront childcare costs has received more than 103,000 signatures.
Labours commitment to scrapping upfront costs, announced in their manifesto today, is a clear sign that they want to do more to support families. We urge the leaders of the other main political parties to follow Labour’s lead and address the issue of expensive, upfront childcare costs. That means giving us the money for childcare before we pay the fees. Not doing so is setting families up to struggle.
Whichever government is elected on December 12th will determine the future of families like ours. We call on you, as party leaders, to commit to addressing this problem as a top priority. Whoever is elected into Number 10 needs to act before the number of parents forced into debt and hardship spirals out of control.
Mums on a Mission: Aneita Lewis, Tasha Jones, Joelle Mitchell, Emma Wise, Thuto Mali, Hannah Pickering, Gemma Widdowfield, Ayo Kila
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