The soaring cost of childcare is responsible for pushing 130,000 children into poverty, new research shows.
Joint research from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and the children’s charity Gingerbread, reveals that the risk of poverty for children whose parents pay for childcare has increased from 14.9% to 19.6%.
CPAG and Gingerbread warn that families struggling pay rising childcare costs have a long time to wait for extra support promised by the government.
According to the research, nursery fees for under-twos have risen by 33% in the last five years, while one in five children with at least one working parent is growing up in poverty.
The government has pledged to pay up to 85% of childcare costs for low-income families claiming Universal Credit. But delays in the roll out of the new benefit, which merges a number of existing benefits into one single monthly payment, means that families will have to wait until 2019 at the earliest for Universal Credit to be fully available across the UK.
It remains unclear as to when 30 hours of free childcare a week for three and four-year olds, promised by the government, will become available to parents.
CPAG and Gingerbread are calling on Chancellor George Osborne to ensure that Universal Credit delays do not result in families having to wait longer to access extra childcare support. They argue that by introducing the extra support through tax credits would help to ‘make work pay’ and help ‘hundreds of thousands of families’.
The call comes ahead of the latest child poverty statistics, due to be published on 25 June and the ’emergency budget’ on 8 July.
Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir said: “Any family knows that childcare is incredibly expensive, but this research proves that the costs are having a very real and damaging effect on the poorest families
“Government proposals will go a long way to helping families with childcare costs – but support is years away from helping many poor families who simply can’t afford to wait.”
Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, Alison Garnham said: “Despite recent progress, childcare costs still make it hard for low income working families to enter or progress in paid work. And children in these families still face the day to day reality of living in poverty because of it.
“The extra support with childcare costs is needed now so families don’t have to lose out because universal credit is delayed. The Chancellor must act now to make work a route out of poverty and deliver on his government’s pledges.”