In Brief

Should large firms subsidise childcare costs?

More than 80% of parents believe big companies should cover the bill for childcare

The vast majority of British parents think large companies should subsidise child care costs for employees, new research from has found.

The survey by London creche Cuckooz Nest, which looked at the financial barrier of childcare costs in the UK, found 85% of working parents believed firms with over 250 employees should cover at least some of the cost of childcare.

It also found that 91% think the government should provide tax relief on childcare costs from an earlier age in order to encourage parents to return to work earlier if they should so wish.

The biggest issue surrounding childcare was found to be availability and affordability, with 46% of those surveyed saying the cost of childcare in relation to their salary was the biggest obstacle when returning to work after having a child. 

According to analysis by Childcare, parents are paying an average of £122.46 a week for off-peak care, while those who require full-time support are paying around £232 a week.

“Unsurprisingly, London topped each list as the most expensive, with Yorkshire and The Humber the cheapest for childminding, the North East the cheapest for nannies and babysitting and the East Midlands the cheapest for nurseries”, reports the Daily Mirror.

At least 50% of fathers claimed that finance was the biggest blocker when considering shared parental leave, with 34% also worried about the risk to their career.

While more than half of those survey said that while they were happy to wait until their child was between one and two before returning to work, 65% said they would return sooner if they had the option of more flexible childcare arrangements.

“Childcare has always been a hot topic and while parents want to secure the best option possible for their child, the lack of flexibility and the high cost of doing so can often mean this just isn’t the case” Charlie Rosier, co-founder of Cuckooz Nest said.

It comes after a new report into the effect of Universal Credit from the work and pensions Commons select committee warned that “upfront costs for childcare are not only a disincentive to work: for some Universal Credit claimants they will either make working unaffordable, or force them to take on debt in order to do so”.

Under Universal Credit, parents have to pay the costs of childcare themselves and submit receipts for reimbursement, “which they won’t receive until their next monthly payment, after the childcare has been provided”, says Nursery World.

Save the Children’s Steven McIntosh said that these large upfront costs can be up to £1,000 when taking into account deposit and advance payments. 

“The idea that families who have spent time out of the workforce have £1,000 lying around to pay those costs up front is patently absurd,” he said.

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