Government proposals ‘too focused’ on early years rather than school-aged children, report finds

The high cost of childcare is still the main barrier preventing mothers from returning to work, according to annual survey results from jobs site workingmums.co.uk.

Despite government proposals to introduce free childcare for three and four year olds, and a tax-free childcare initiative, 61% of women currently not working said childcare costs were making it difficult for them to return to employment.

The research suggests that too much focus has been on relieving the costs of early-years childcare, when in fact finding affordable and adequate childcare for school-aged children is a problem for 57% of survey respondents.

The survey of more than 2,300 mothers across the UK found that over half of working mums continue to struggle with holiday and after-school care, and it was having an impact on their ability to do their job.

Working parents said the current childcare options available to them were not flexible enough to meet the changing nature of employment, with 41% stating this to be the case. While 45% of respondents said they relied on grandparents to cut down the expense of caring for children.

Up to 38% of mums said they would consider shared parental leave, but this is significantly down on last year’s figures, when 44% of mothers said they would consider adopting the approach.

Gillian Nissim, founder of workingmums.co.uk said;

Many working parents were deterred by the complexity of legislation. The survey results show there are significant problems with the cost and availability of childcare and with the kind of flexible childcare options that parents are increasingly demanding.

In the last general election, childcare featured prominently, yet most of the focus was on early years. Childcare for school-aged children consequently remains a particular problem and parents feel that this not being addressed by government policy.

Earlier this week, charity Working Families revealed their annual Top Employers list, which recognises those organisations with best practice flexible and family friendly working policies.

Centrica, the Ministry of Justice and Southdown Housing Association were amongst the top ten employers for their “leadership and innovation” in embedding a flexible and family-friendly working environment.

Julian Foster, managing director at Computershare, sponsors of the survey said;

The best employees have rounded existences, and the best employers do not force their staff to compromise their commitment to their families. Flexible working creates happier and healthier workforces that are hardworking, committed and loyal, and it’s great to have had another chance this year to share ideas and reward those organisations that empower their employees.

Petaurum Solutions’ Comment

If you are thinking about innovative ways of rewarding your employees, then our employee benefits schemes are a great way of doing this. If you want to provide your employees with the best possible range of options for childcare schemes, you will need to act now as time is running out. Contact us to find out how easy and quick it would be to get your scheme up and running.

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