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TUC women call for Budget protection of pricey childcare

Activists tell tales of prohibitive expense

Women activists demanded yesterday that Chancellor George Osborne protect childcare as he drafts cuts for his Budget speech next week.

Over 300 women at this year's TUC women's conference unanimously voted to lobby the chancellor on Budget day "so that all parents on universal credit will have 85 per cent of their costs paid for."

The vote came after a lengthy debate on the difficulty of raising children under Con-Dem austerity.

Delegates highlighted that high costs and inaccessibility to childcare were still affecting many women's careers.

Employers' inflexibility regarding shift work or childcare-adaptable hours, as well as lack of in-work nursing facilities, left many women with no option but to quit their jobs, they said.

Coronation Street actor and actors' union Equity women's committee chairwoman Lynda Rooke told the conference how when going for an interview at the BBC with one of her children - then at breastfeeding age - she was immediately asked who would take care of the baby were she to get the job.

The BBC nursery, she was told, was unavailable to freelance workers.

"Needless to say, I didn't get the job," she lamented.

News broke in January that child-minding costs had increased a whopping 19 per cent during 2013.

Individual childcare, in particular for children with special needs, has become inaccessible to most families.

The average cost of babysitters and nannies has risen by 25 per cent.

Among other issues the motion highlighted TUC support for single parents' childcare campaign Gingerbread and the unfaltering defence of Sure Start nurseries across the country.

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