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Over half of working mums struggle with holiday and after-school care, survey shows

In the last general election childcare featured prominently, but most of the focus was on early years childcare. The survey of over 2,300 mums shows childcare for school-aged children is a problem for 57%. Half say the Government’s focus on increasing free childcare for three and four year olds and its tax-free childcare initiative, by which families where both parents work will be able to claim back up to 20 per cent of childcare costs up to a maximum of &pound2,000 a year for each child under 12, will not help them.

The survey also shows that 14 per cent of respondents do not know if Government childcare plans will ultimately help them or not And a third currently claim tax credits but face cuts to their childcare support.

Another issue the survey flagged was the lack of flexible childcare available to working parents - with 41% stating that the childcare options currently available to them were not flexible enough for their needs. This is likely to include self-employed people and those working shifts or starting work early or working late.

Childcare costs were consistently cited as the main barrier stopping mums returning to work. Some 61 per cent of those not currently working said childcare costs were making it difficult for them to return to work. This was up from 57% from last year.

In order to cut down on childcare costs, 45% of respondents said they are reliant on grandparents.

The survey also highlighted that it is still primarily women that take the main carer role in a family. 56% of mums reported that they do more housework and childcare than their partners, compared to 22% who say these tasks are equally shared. Just 3% said that their partner does more housework/childcare than they do.

Nevertheless, there does seem to be an increasing appetite for sharing care more equally, with 38% saying they would consider Shared Parental Leave – where  parental leave after their baby is born is split equally with their partner. This is, however, significantly down on last year’s figure of 44%, which is perhaps linked to a greater awareness of the complexity of the new legislation.

Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, said, “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.”

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