The true cost of childcare for Working Women

Back to all Motions

2016 National Women's Conference
14 October 2015
Carried as Amended

In the UK approximately 5.5 million working mothers of dependent children pay for child care. With increasing costs of childcare, other household bills and stagnant or reducing salaries, women are finding it harder and harder to stay in work.

In the 2015 budget the government announced an increase of free childcare from 15 hours to 30 hours, but there’s a catch! Someone has to pay for the extra hours of childcare and that’s the 5.5 million working women. Changes to tax credits and child tax credits means that you will pay after all.

A survey completed in January 2014 of 2,000 mothers found that 67% of those in work and 64% of those not in work said the high cost of childcare is a barrier to taking on more employment. Well over a third (37%) of stay-at-home mothers said they would like to work and would hope to do an average of 23 hours a week. And 20% of mothers who are already employed would like to take on an extra 10 hours a week on average.

According to figures from the Daycare Trust, the average cost of 25 hours’ care in a nursery for a child under two costs £103 per week. All children in England, Scotland and Wales qualify for part-time free early education in the term after their third birthday. In England, they receive 570 free hours every year, but even with this help some parents are contributing a substantial part of their income to childcare.

By the time your child is in school, you will probably need to pay for an after-school club, which costs an average of £40 for 15 hours – enough to ensure that you do not have to pick your children up until six o’clock every night of the week.

Between 2009 and 2014 childcare costs rose on average 27% and this is expected to continue. The government has recently announced that the increase in free hours from 15 to 30 will be delayed until 2017 putting further strain on working mothers.

The cost of childcare is closely linked to the economic viability of working women and those seeking employment. Women in the public sector still have to argue for flexible working following motherhood. For those women who work shifts it is particularly difficult to balance work and family life. Women continue to be the primary care givers in families and society in the UK. There needs to be more support for fathers to share the responsibility for the work/life balance. The reality for many women members is that their choices are limited, and for too many they feel they have no choice or options.

This conference instructs The National Woman’s committee to:

1)Continue to campaign on all aspects of childcare as a priority for UNISON and its women members including for free childcare delivered in the public sector, flexible working to become a parental right, a right to part-time working, phased return from maternity leave, and extended paid paternity leave ;

2)Work closely with Labour Link to lobby MPs to cap annual increases of childcare costs.