A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research this month found that the cost of childcare had risen to the point where some parents in low-income families effectively “pay to work”. The thinktank blamed a lack of support under the current system of tax credits as much as it did spiralling nursery charges.
The report said a woman with a partner and two children who works fewer than 16 hours a week and earns the government’s “national living wage” of £7.50 an hour would see her childcare costs overwhelm her earnings, leading to a net loss.
This situation is also common for women on higher hourly rates when they live in high-cost areas like London. The IPPR said the capital had the lowest maternal employment rate in the country.
A TUC report last year found there was an overall gender pay gap of 34% for full-time working mothers who were born in 1970 and had their children before the age of 33. The time out from work on maternity leave before they had established themselves in skilled or senior roles effectively killed their chances of advancement, or at best restricted them, the report said.