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childcare costs — a barrier to work?

One in five of all parents with childcare costs will reduce the hours they work or will consider giving up work altogether in 2015 according to families charity 4Children

Their survey of 1,000 parents of children aged between 0–16 found that, of those parents paying for childcare, almost a fifth (18%) are considering reducing their hours at work or giving up their job altogether because of the financial strain.

The CBI believes that, as employees, our experiences of working life have a big impact on our view of business generally. In November the CBI called for help with childcare costs in its report A Better off Britain which outlined a number of measures to raise living standards.

The average couple with two children saw their income fall by £2,132 a year in real terms between 2009/10 and 2012/13. Working families, those on low incomes, and younger workers have found recent years the most difficult.

Families have been hit by rising childcare costs and employees have seen less of the money employers spend on them, with more going into National Insurance contributions and pensions. To provide immediate relief, the CBI has called for a reduction in employee NICs – raising the threshold at which it is paid by staff to £10,500 in a series of steps until 2020/21. This will be worth £363 to a dual-income household and is more effective than raising income tax allowances.

Childcare costs have risen by 27% since 2010, hitting working families and stopping parents from working or increasing their hours. The CBI’s measures include:

–Extending free childcare provision of 15 hours to all children aged 1 and 2, with the longer-term aim of increasing the number of hours provided

–Extending maternity pay from 39 to 52 weeks to close the gap between maternity leave and when free childcare becomes available

–Businesses adopting a presumption in favour of flexibility from the job advert stage to help employees save on childcare costs.

So what do you think? Are employers doing all they should to help people work and meet their family responsibilities? As we head to the General Election, what should politicians, of all parties, be considering? Join the debate here and on twitter @bizdebate




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