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Returning to Work

The UK is one of the most expensive countries in the world for childcare, and being a full-time working mother in London. Read More

is turning into a luxury for those who can afford it.The cost of childcare in the capital is so high that unless you are rich or have family nearby to help you, you may be forced out of your job. How becoming a mum has made me more ambitious Working while paying for childcare doesn’t pay off for many women on average salaries, and the situation is worse for single parents.

The most difficult time for a mum is from the end of maternity pay until the child reaches the age of two as there is a gap in childcare support until government assistance kicks in. It means that by the time maternity leave is over, women are facing the dilemma of working or looking after the child to save costs.

Many either have to cut down their hours or leave their jobs altogether. A nursery in London costs around £1,400 per month full time and around £840 for three days per week. A childminder is a cheaper option but still not affordable for many as costs have risen faster than wages.

There is also not enough care available outside the atypical working hours as nurseries work on an 8-6pm basis. It means many working families will also be paying for a nanny to fill the late afternoon hours. (Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk) There is some support from the government in the form of tax relief schemes and the benefits system.

All parents are eligible to access Tax-Free Childcare (rolled out in 2017), including the self-employed, through HMRC, and some have access to Childcare Vouchers. Tax-Free Childcare covers 20% of childcare costs up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year. The voucher schemes are managed by employers, meeting up to £55 of childcare costs per parent per week. Lower income families are usually the ones claiming Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit rather than a tax relief scheme, and these have caps on the amount of costs they support. This support is always much lower than the actual costs faced by the family, hence why many parents in this group will often need to decide whether it is financially worthwhile for them to return to employment – this applies to both single parents and those with partners. Last year saw the launch of 30 hours per week ‘funded’ childcare for three and four-year-olds only. It was wrongly advertised as ‘free’; it is not. Children are only eligible if both parents work and the 30 hours is available for only 38 weeks of the year. What’s more, many nurseries are withdrawing from the scheme as the amount they receive for the subsidised hours does not cover costs.

(Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk) Childcare is a necessity, not a luxury for the privileged few. Parents should be better off working, and families on mid to low salaries should be able to afford it. As I return to my job after maternity leave, I feel as if I’m paying for the privilege. I have had to dramatically cut down my hours in order to save on childcare. Also, it seems as though women are the ones who worry the most about working arrangements. Men hardly ever consider caring for children as an impediment to their careers.

The UK’s childcare costs, and those in London particularly are a barrier for us working mothers.

Read more:  Care of the Meteo Newspaper http://metro.co.uk/2018/01/04/why-being-a-working-mother-is-a-luxury-for-those-who-can-afford-childcare-7188247/?ito=cbshare