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Childcare costs match or exceed the rent or mortgages for nearly two-thirds of families, survey finds

THE cost of childcare matches or even exceeds that of rent or mortgages for nearly two-thirds of families, a survey published today shows.

The shocking poll, conduced by campaign groups Pregnant Then Screwed and Mumsnet, suggests that 62 per cent of parents are paying the same, if not more, for childcare as they do to keep a roof over their heads.

The research, which consulted about 27,000 parents of young children, shows the figure is even higher for single parents and those who work full-time at 73 per cent. 

Nearly half — 43 per cent — of mums say that high childcare prices have forced them to consider quitting work, demonstrating how the problem pushes women into low-paid insecure work, the groups said.

One in four parents report having to cut down on necessary expenses such as food, heating or clothing to afford childcare, rising to more than half — 53 per cent — of all single parents.

More than one in 10 — 13 per cent — of these say that they are forced to use a foodbank due to childcare expenses, while the vast majority of all parents expect costs to rise still further in the next six months. 

Some 41 per cent report a waiting list of six months or more at their local childcare provider, while one in five say theirs has closed in the last year. 

Pregnant Then Screwed launched its #UnHappyMothersDay campaign today by handing in a petition to Downing Street calling for an independent review into the sector.

The group’s founder Joeli Brearley said: “The government’s approach to childcare just is not working.

“[Ministers] say they care about the cost-of-living crisis but when two-thirds of families are skipping meals to be able to afford childcare, something has gone horribly wrong.”

Mumsnet chairwoman Justine Roberts said: “Fiddling around the edges will not solve the fundamental problems with childcare.

“The government must come up with a serious plan to fix our broken system.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson slammed the “utterly appalling” situation, saying: “Ministers must not standby while families are priced out of parenting."

A government spokesperson said: “The early years of a child’s life are the most crucial, which is why we have invested more than £3.5 billion in each of the last three years to deliver free childcare offers.”

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