Baby · Family

The Great Childcare Debate

childcareSomething which is on a lot of people’s minds at the moment is the issue of childcare, after the Government introduced free funding for 2 year olds from underprivileged families to receive 15 hours of nursery a week. The idea was to get parents back into work without having the expense of nursery hanging over them, but it’s a scheme which has been a bit of a sticking point for a lot of families. Until the age of three, working parents are expected to pay the full price for childcare and the prevailing attitude is that it seems unfair that familes who don’t appear to need free childcare are more entitled to it.

Let’s look at the brass tacks of it:

At the moment, Husband and I both work from home, which works for us and means we don’t need childcare. Now, let’s assume that I wanted to go back to work, full time, as a copywriter which is what I currently do from home. Let’s completely ignore Husband’s salary and assume that this is still going on things like rent and our bills, as it does at the moment.

The average salary for a copywriter is £23,047 per year before tax and National Insurance, so my take-home pay would be approximately £18,840, or £1570 per month. I’d probably have to travel to London to find this kind of work so I’d have to factor in £355.60 per month in season ticket fares. The nursery attached to Sausage’s school charges £4.50 per hour, plus £1.75 for a hot lunch, which would make my monthly nursery fees (assuming I’d need to drop her off at 7.30 am to get the train and not collect her again until 6.30pm) £1110.42. Of course, this also doesn’t factor in needing before and after school care for Sausage.

In travel fees and nursery fees alone, my monthly expenses JUST FOR GOING TO WORK would be £1466.02, leaving me approximately £103 which, as far as I’m concerned would make it absolutely POINTLESS going back to work.

I know that there are flexi options, sometimes family can help with childcare, or companies which allow a homeworking element during the week, but these figures are the exact reason that so many people are up in arms about the government’s scheme. Being a copywriter isn’t the loftiest career in the whole world but it sure as hell pays more than retail work or other minimum wage jobs, which means that even people with hopes of getting a mid-level job will struggle.

Obviously, this is all part of a MUCH bigger problem. The cost of living is too damn high in the UK, whilst wages are depressingly low. Family-friendly working is more-or-less non-existent and women are usually expected to bear the burden of this. I know that there’s a prevailing attitude that women SHOULD be the ones to bear the burden because they’re the ones who CHOOSE to have the babies (obviously the men have zero say in this and we’re all just sperm-harvesting lunatics…*sarcasm*) but this is a hugely outdated notion and many men also feel penalised because of their inability to contribute towards the childcare duties.

I don’t begrudge families who are on a low income the opportunity to have free childcare, I really don’t, but I also don’t think it’s a solution. It’s a really romantic notion, hoping to help people back into work, but let me ask you this: 1. how are they supposed to afford that childcare once the funding runs out and they’re on a low wage and 2. WHERE ARE ALL OF THESE JOBS THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE FILLING?!

I think we can all agree that the Government has well and truly got its head up its arse on this issue and that more help needs to be given to ALL parents who want to go back to work, not least of all because we’ve probably got a massive pool if untapped talent in this country, desperate to get back into the workplace but unable to afford it. It’s all very well for the hate-mongers in the right wing press to be content with demonising benefit claimants but the Government has basically created this viscous loop of never being able to AFFORD to come off of benefits, for so many people, who are essentially tied to living in permanent poverty.

I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this. Are you a Mum who’d love to go back to work but simply cannot afford to? Would you have a career if the childcare was cheaper or more affordable? Are you in receipt of two-year-old funding but still unable to find a job? Please leave me a comment below.

7 thoughts on “The Great Childcare Debate

  1. I really would love to go back to work but there is no way I could afford it. I’m much better of staying at home now and working for myself. That way I can be here when the kids need me too x

  2. I went back to work when my two were younger but it was a struggle paying childcare until they were both at school and I did work for what amounted to not very much at times when I was paying childcare fees so I do totally see your point about it not being worth working.

  3. I have returned to work recently and had a change of career but my children are 7 and 9 so I just needed to sort out after school club which is at the school and very reasonable. It is all a juggle though!

  4. To be honest my objection isn’t around what is fair to working parents or non working parents, but I do see it as a way of the government trying to force parents back into the work place before perhaps they are ready. Do parents really want to go back to work when their child is 2 rather than 3? To be honest, I’m a bit doubtful that people really feel such an urge to get back to work. Personally I felt strongly that I wanted to be at home with my child in his preschool years and felt that 3 was soon enough to go to preschool (we did lots of playgroups/activities so social stuff was never an issue). I guess we had the luxury of being able to manage on one salary, so it’s not like we were relying on benefits.

  5. My husband was working until March this year when he took unwell. I would love for both of us to work but to put our daughter in nursery full time would cost £700 a month plus £100 a month for after school care for our son. So that means one of us would be working just to cover childcare costs.

  6. I chose to stay at home when I was made redundant as my field was very competitive and shrinking due to funding cuts. I couldn’t find a job with part-time hours or one that paid enough to ensure it was worth my while to be away from my child all week. We manage just but really don’t have lots of spare cash for holidays etc. We now have three children so the costs of childcare would be even higher and, even when they’re all in school, it’s still going to be expensive to find wrap around care for them, and difficult to find a sympathetic employer who is ok with me dropping everything when they’re sick. In the past three weeks my older two have missed school and nursery for a total of 7 days due to bugs!

    The free provision for 2 year olds, to me, is something of a white elephant. They want parents to go back to work but who can work in the 2.5 hours a day that the provision offers at our nursery? To me it seems like a way to separate toddlers from their parents as ‘they’re better off at nursery’ rather than as a means of encouragement to work. I feel that, in terms of those children, money would be better spent on provision that allows parent and child to be togetber. Like SureStart used to before the Tories slashed their budgets. It smacks of parents not being trusted to care for their own children and the desire to get little ones in to the ‘cookie cutter’ provision that the national curriculum provides as early as possible.

    1. The sickness thing is another really good point – I actually wnet back to work when Sausage started school but ended up quitting because she got chicken pox and I realised that there would always be a toss-up between work and family, and that my family would ALWAYS win, which made things really unfair to my employer.

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