High cost of childcare forces women back in the home
The latest government statistics have revealed that an increasing number of women are being forced to give up their jobs because of the high cost of childcare. The number of women who have given up paid employment to stay at home and look after their children has risen by 32,000 in the past year. The average cost of full-time childcare is £385 a month but this rises to £729 for children under the age of two.
Women are already penalised when they take time out of the labour market to have children. A lack of flexible working and a dearth of quality part-time jobs mean that, after they have children, women are very often forced to work in jobs that are well below their skill levels. Even when both parents are in full-time employment, women are still usually considered to be the main caregiver. When the cost of childcare becomes prohibitively expensive, it is, therefore, unsurprising that it is the woman who has to give up her job to take care of the children.*
With the increasing cost of childcare and the impact of this on parents, it seems that greater public investment in childcare is desperately needed. Increased provison of childcare, free at the point of use, would go some way towards rebalancing the inequality women face when trying to combine a career with parenthood.
*This refers to mixed sex relationships. There is little evidence about the dynamic of childcare in same sex relationships.