Friday, November 22, 2019
Home Charities Parents on Universal Credit 'driven into poverty and debt by soaring childcare...

Parents on Universal Credit ‘driven into poverty and debt by soaring childcare costs’

Hard pressed parents are having to find up to £800 extra to cover the cost of childcare this summer, driving many families into debt, new analysis by Save the Children reveals.

Thousands of families on Universal Credit – the government’s flagship welfare reform programme – are being made to pay for childcare costs upfront, before waiting up to a month to be reimbursed.

Increased costs during the school holidays mean parents are being forced to take out loans to cover the shortfall, or even give up work altogether.

Today, seven mums who have been pushed into ‘childcare debt’ as a result of the policy will join Save the Children to lobby Parliament, demanding that changes are made to Universal Credit before it is rolled out nationwide.

Photo: Pixabay

These self-proclaimed ‘mums on a mission’ will be calling on the government to pay childcare costs in advance – a solution which will cost no more than the current system and will transform the lives of low-income parents and their children.

Nichola, a single mum of one from Portslade, West Sussex, joined the campaign after she was forced to borrow from family and even resort to payday loans to cover childminder costs during the school holidays. She said:

“It’s enormous stress – you’re always on the back foot. Every six weeks there’s a half term.

“I’ve borrowed from my family to pay the last half term, and when I can’t come up with the extra money I’ve taken time off, but I’ve only got one week’s holiday left this year and there’s a six-week holiday coming up.

“How am I going to do this? This isn’t about the odd £50 – we’re potentially talking about having to find thousands.”

Nichola works as a benefits adviser and recently moved jobs to increase her salary and working hours. But she has since had to reduce her hours because she can’t afford the cost of childcare.

“If I don’t do something I’m going to go under. I took this job because it was more hours and I thought I’d be better off. But it’s just not doable. The upfront costs have stopped me from working more hours.”

Childcare costs increase during the school holidays, when many parents rely on holiday clubs or childminders while they are at work.

Even parents of pre-school-aged children are affected, as they lose their free childcare entitlement during the holidays. A parent with a three or four-year-old who usually receives 30 free hours of childcare could face an increase of between £530 to £832 during the summer holidays, depending on where they live.

This is on top of other spikes in costs throughout the year, which leave parents constantly playing catch-up.

The different number of days in each month, for example, has left some parents regularly having to substantially more to cover increases in their monthly bills, while others say their childcare providers expect them to pay for whole terms upfront – money they just don’t have.

There are 30,000 parents in England currently getting support with childcare through Universal Credit. This is set to rise to half a million families when Universal Credit is eventually rolled out.

-Advertisement-

As more than three-quarters (78%) of low-income families with young children in England have no savings, Save the Children warns that frequent spikes in childcare costs will push many of these families into the red, or block them from going back to work – the very opposite of what Universal Credit is designed to do.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd MP. Photo: Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0]

Martha Mackenzie, Save the Children’s Director of UK Poverty Policy, said: “It’s simply not right that families are being driven into poverty and debt by soaring childcare costs.

“Parents tell us it feels as if the system is stacked against them.

“They rely on childcare to go to work but when the school holidays come around they find themselves faced with sky-high childcare bills they can’t afford.

“They are having to resort to desperate measures – cutting back on essentials, falling behind on bills or getting into debt – just to go to work.

“Instead of setting families up to struggle, the government must change the system so that parents can get help with their childcare costs before they need to pay fees.

“This would make a massive difference to parents and children living in poverty — and it wouldn’t cost more money.”

Universal Credit brings together six means-tested benefits into a single, monthly payment for low-income households. Under the current system, parents can make a claim for help with childcare costs in advance of paying nursery bills.

Save the Children is calling for parents on Universal Credit to get the same help.

Martha Mackenzie said: “Hundreds of thousands of families are set to start getting help with childcare through Universal Credit in the next few years.

“The government must solve this problem now before the number of families falling into debt spirals out of control.”


Disclaimer: This is an official press release from Save The Children.


Follow Us

16,675FansLike
9,397FollowersFollow

Trending Now

A homeless person dies every 19 hours in austerity Britain

Services are failing to protect homelessness people, say campaigners.

UK pensioners ‘suffering the worst poverty rate in western Europe’

Tories warned against further rises to the state pension age.

Benefit payment dates over Christmas and New Year 2019-20

You may receive benefit payments early over Christmas and New Year. Check here to see if this applies to you and your family.

Benefit claimants told to fork out £1400 to record disability assessments

Disabled people told to pay for expensive specialist equipment if they want benefit assessments to be recorded.

‘Pensionless Pensioner’ Brands UK Government Most Brutal ‘Regime’ In Living Memory

Woman stripped of her right to state pension says the UK Government doesn't care whether vulnerable people live or die.

More News

Carers missing out on £1.5bn in unclaimed benefits

Unpaid carers urged to check their benefit entitlement.

General Election 2019: What are Labour’s plans for social security and pensions?

Find out how Labour's plans for social security are very different to what we've seen over the last decade.

Labour declares ‘war on poverty’ and pledges to scrap Tory welfare reforms

Tory austerity has entrenched poverty and destitution across Britain, say Labour.

Disabled man found dead at Jobcentre within months of being declared ‘fit for work’ by the DWP

Campaigners have called for benefit assessments to be suspended after the man's sudden death.

800,000 more children from working households pushed into poverty since 2010

Labour says the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats "should hang their heads in shame".

Follow Us

16,675FansLike
9,397FollowersFollow

More Articles Like This