In the UK, families face a staggering childcare expense, amounting to 75% of their monthly wages, creating a significant barrier for women aiming to rejoin the workforce.
Sarah Ronan’s experience, having to quit her job due to soaring childcare costs, isn’t an isolated incident. The UK stands out in Europe for its steep childcare expenses, often resulting in women hesitating to re-enter the job market post-childbirth due to these overwhelming costs.
Detailing her predicament, Ronan, an executive at the UK Women’s Budget Group’s Early Education and Childcare Coalition, said, “Balancing childcare was challenging. My son spent three days a week with his grandparents and only two days in a nursery. But when health issues arose with the grandparents, the option was five-day daycare, costing £1200 (€1356) monthly, almost absorbing my £1700 (€1921) post-tax earnings.”
A recent study by the charity, Pregnant Then Screwed, highlights that UK parents might end up allocating 75% of their earnings to childcare. This skyrocketing cost led the UK to claim the title of the most expensive childcare nation among developed countries in 2022. The escalating situation triggered the “March of the Mummies” protest last year.
However, the government seems unmoved by the crisis. Joeli Brearley, the charity’s founder, stated, “The current inflation trend suggests an impending 10% surge in childcare expenses by April. An average annual childcare spot costs £14,000, potentially rising by another £1,000.”
The survey also indicates a troubling trend: one-third of parents are resorting to debt to manage their childcare bills.
As the UK grapples with a growing affordability crisis that has even basic necessities out of many residents’ reach, these rising childcare costs deepen societal disparities. They disproportionately affect women, often compelling them to either cut back on work hours or exit the job market entirely. The Centre for Progressive Policy approximates that 1.7 million UK women are working reduced hours due to these prohibitive childcare fees.