Poor cannot afford childcare, says Save the Children

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Save The Children says a survey shows soaring cost of childcare is pushing the poorest out of work in Wales.

A UK survey by Save the Children and The Daycare Trust found that a quarter of parents are in debt because of spiralling childcare costs.

They called for improved "access to affordable and quality childcare".

The Welsh Government said it was "investing significantly" in childcare to allow parents to work, train or take part in education.

Parents in Britain spend almost a third of their income on childcare - more than anywhere else in the world.

The high costs of childcare have the greatest consequences for the poorest families. The survey found that almost half have had to cut back on food in order to pay for childcare.

Nearly 60% of families in severe poverty said they were "no better off working once childcare is paid for".

'Vital role'

CASE STUDY

Geraldine Henderson, Rhymney, Caerphilly county, mother-of-three, worried about the cost of childcare.

"My partner works but I am currently not looking to go back to work as my children are still young and I want to be a part of their growing up.

"Being a stay at home mum is a very rewarding and worthwhile job. But in the future I hope to be able to go back to work.

"As costs stand now there would be no financial benefit to me going back to work.

"As a family we would only be around £10 to £30 better off than if I wasn't working."

The survey also found that, of 4,000 parents questioned across the UK, one third had turned down a job mainly because of high childcare costs.

Some 41% of parents in severe poverty were considering giving up work because of the cuts to the working tax credit, which meant they could no longer afford childcare.

James Pritchard, head of Save the Children in Wales, called on the Welsh Government to examine pre-school childcare support in Wales, ensure there is sufficient childcare for children aged five to 14 and to maximise opportunities presented by the childcare sector in Wales.

"Childcare has a vital role to play in tackling child poverty," he said.

"And, whilst we welcome the Welsh Government's commitment to support and develop the childcare sector in Wales, more needs to be done."

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said it was investing in many programmes to allow parents to participate in work, education or training.

"Flying Start is targeted in our most disadvantaged communities and provides support to families that includes free, part-time childcare for two and three-year-olds," he said.

"We aim to double the reach of the Flying Start so that more children and families can benefit.

"We are developing and will introduce a scheme to enable childcare that is not regulated, including provision for older children, to become eligible for the childcare element of Working Tax Credits."

He added that children were entitled to free part-time education places the term after their third birthday.

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