Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Budget - financing childcare

Today’s Westminster Budget is expected to include announcements about financial support through the tax system directed at families in paid work to fund childcare. It will affect families across the UK.

Recent research from Growing up in Scotland shows the costs to parents of accessing childcare are increasing, while the CRFR’s About Families review highlights the particular challenges for parents on a low income and the extra costs for families associated with having a disabled child without appropriate support. It also highlights how parents view childcare as a practical support for parenting, valuing it above interventions like parenting classes and emotional support.

The costs of childcare
Costs for childcare increased and families from all social groups report difficulties in meeting these costs according to the recent Growing up in Scotland findings. The study compares the experiences of families with children born in 2010/11 with those of families with children born in 2004/5.

  • The average weekly cost of childcare was £88. Figures indicate there has been an average increase in childcare costs for a 10-month-old child of £12 per week, or approximately £624 per year.
  • The proportion of parents reporting that childcare costs were ‘very easy’ to pay has reduced slightly from 14% to 10% whereas the proportion saying costs were difficult to pay increased a little from 21% to 24% over the same time period.
  • Families in more disadvantaged circumstances were more likely to report some difficulty in meeting their childcare costs, although some families from all social groups report having difficulty. 

What do parents think about childcare?
The About Families evidence reviews on Parenting Support and Parenting on a Low Income highlighted the fact that while high cost is a key barrier to accessing childcare there are many other issues that need consideration such as the quality and availability of care. Lack of provision in rural areas, particularly outside standard office hours, is one example.

Parents report that accessing suitable high quality childcare for disabled children can be particularly difficult, and that the additional challenges associated with having a disabled child without appropriate support, made it more difficult to juggle work and family life.

Lone mothers of children of all ages are more likely to experience a lack of appropriate childcare as a barrier to taking up employment. This may result from a lack of services, difficulties with transport and flexible working arrangements but also from the lack of funding for childcare to support training and education that would enable later employment.

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The About Families project gathers accessible and reliable evidence to inform the development of services providing support for parenting. www.aboutfamilies.org.uk 

The "Growing up in Scotland: Birth Cohort 2. Results from the First Year" report provides a detailed insight into the first set of data collected from second group of children being studied from birth. These are representative of all children born in Scotland between 1st March 2010 and 28th February 2011. Comparisons are made with the first group of children studied, who were born in 2004/5. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/02/3280




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