Up to half a million more mothers could be in work if childcare was cheaper and more flexible, a report has said. The report, by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), said the economy would also benefit by more than a billion pounds a year. Its study said childcare costs have risen by 77% over the past decade, with a part-time nursery place costing more than £100 a week. The government says it plans to increase support for childcare in 2015.
The IPPR, a left-of-centre think tank, said the number of nurseries offering full-day care has halved since 2008. As a result, the report said that the UK’s record on employing mothers had fallen behind many other countries. The maternal employment rate for mothers with a youngest child between the age of three and five is 58% in the UK. The average across the 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is 64%.
Population Matters comment: Providing more affordable childcare to help mothers back to work would help support an ageing society and reduce the need for migrant labour. Such subsidies should be limited to the first two children to avoid incetivising larger families.