Business Maverick

Business Maverick

UK mothers say it no longer makes financial sense to work

UK mothers say it no longer makes financial sense to work
A family takes part in the March of the Mummies protest in Whitehall, London, Britain, on 29 October 2022. (Photo: Dinendra Haria/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Three-quarters of women paying for child care in the UK say it doesn’t make financial sense for them to work, according to a new report that could spark concerns about a labour market already under strain.

For around a fifth of parents, childcare costs account for more than half their household income, a report released on Thursday by charity Pregnant Then Screwed showed.

In one of the most expensive countries for child care in the Organisation fro Economic Cooperation and Development, mothers of young children are having to weigh the economics of staying in the labour force. That’s a problem partly because the UK is struggling with a tight labour market, with the number of people dropping out of the workforce rising since the pandemic, including women to look after the home and family.

A failure to resolve the issue could have repercussions at the next general election, according to the report. 96% of families with a child under three years old are likely to vote for the political party with the best childcare pledge.

The Treasury is mulling expanding free child care for one and two year-olds, according to reports from the Guardian newspaper. The opposition Labour party, which is currently leading in the polls, has pledged to overhaul the system if it wins power, offering child care from the end of parental leave until a child is 11 years old.

There’s a wider reason to encourage women back to work too. A study published in 2022 by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP found that the UK would see a $177-billion boost to its annual gross domestic product by increasing the female employment rate to that of Sweden, a leader in the provision of early-years child care.

“It’s important to remember that this isn’t just a parenting issue, this is an issue for the whole of society,” said Joeli Brearley, founder and CEO of Pregnant Then Screwed in an emailed statement. “The question isn’t whether we can afford to invest in childcare, it is whether we can afford not to.”

As part of a campaign to push the government to boost investment in the sector, Pregnant Then Screwed will issue the sound of a baby crying from billboards on Friday. BM/DM

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  • Craig A says:

    What a bunch of wingers! Why are people so ignorant to think that having a baby isn’t going to cost you a huge amount of money? For at least 18 years. Get over it. Having a baby is a choice, not a requirement. If you have them, then live with the consequences.

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