2 in 5 working mums face childcare crisis

Around 2 in 5 (41%) working mums with children under 10 can’t get – or are unsure whether they will get – enough childcare to cover the hours they need for work this September, according to a new TUC poll.

As children around England begin to return to school, an ICM survey for the TUC reveals that a lot of mums are missing out on their usual forms of childcare.

Of those mums:

  • Nearly half (45%) said they don’t have their usual help from friends and family.
  • More than a third (35%) told the TUC they can’t get places at afterschool clubs.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (28%) have lost childcare provided by school breakfast clubs.
  • The same proportion (28%) don’t have their usual nursery or childminder available.

The pressures of juggling work and childcare has become even more difficult. Jobs that don’t offer flexibility is making it more difficult for parents to access the same childcare they had before. Furthermore, the significant lack of funding to the early years sector has meant that many settings have closed down, leaving parents with even less option.

  • The vast majority (90%) of working mums said they have taken on more childcare responsibilities since the pandemic began.
  • More than 2 in 5 (43%) said they have had to combine working at home and childcare – compared to less than 3 in 10 (29%) of their partners.
  • 3 in 10 (30%) mums told the TUC they regularly worked early in the morning (pre-8am) or late at night (post-8pm) to balance work and childcare.
  • 1 in 6 (16%) – mostly those in low-paid jobs – said that they have had no choice but to reduce their working hours.

The TUC is calling on the government to extend the option of furlough to support parents who are unable to return to work because of childcare responsibilities until schools and childcare settings are fully reopened. More importantly though, it is warning that without an urgent cash boost, the sector is at risk of more closures.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Women workers have borne the brunt of this crisis – both on the frontline and at home.

‘Mums have picked up the majority of childcare while nurseries and schools have been closed. And many have sacrificed hours and pay to do so – especially those in low-paid jobs who can least afford the financial hit.

‘But this can’t go on. If we don’t take this childcare crisis seriously women will be pushed out of the workforce, turning the clock back on decades of labour market progress.

‘Childcare providers desperately need new government cash to stay open. And we need an extension to the job retention scheme for mums and dads who can’t return to work because of childcare responsibilities.’

Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) commented: ‘Nurseries and childcare providers have worked hard throughout the pandemic, offering emergency childcare where possible and then implementing wide-ranging safety measures to be able to take more children back when lockdown ended.

‘This survey of working parents shows how vital the sector is, not just for children’s early education and development, but as a core part of our national economic infrastructure. Our call for urgent funding to the sector now has the support of trade unions, local authorities and parents who recognise the urgency of the situation.

‘Nurseries have rightly invested time, effort and resources into measures to make sure children and staff are safe in settings. Governments across Europe are recognising the importance of the childcare sector to any economic recovery and providing financial support, it’s time Ministers did the same here.’




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