Child care support in Britain is not enough to allow parents to devote themselves to work

The representatives warned parents that users of universal credit [برنامج حكومي يقدم مساعدات نقدية لذوي الدخل المحدود] Those who want to work or work longer hours are “held hostage by high childcare costs.”

A report by the Commission for Work and Pensions stated that the childcare support provided through this state aid scheme was only sufficient to cover reduced working hours and prevented parents from working longer hours.

Universal Credit users can reimburse 85 percent of a monthly childcare bill of £760 ($925) – that’s a maximum of £646.35 ($778) a month.

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The £760 cap on total eligible subsidy costs has remained the same since 2005, and its reassessment is “long overdue”, according to MPs.

The committee reported that this amount covers only 27 hours per week, making it difficult for parents to work only part-time.

The committee is calling for the amount to be increased to better reflect childcare costs, noting that parents are often pushed into debt by having to pay for childcare up front, while Universal Credit payments are late.

The committee also stated that this situation has created a “tremendous barrier to work” for some families that needs to be addressed, using a direct payment system if necessary.

Sir Stephen Thames, Labor MP and chair of the committee, said: “Many parents supported by Universal Credit want to work or work longer hours to support their families, but are held hostage by high childcare costs, a pre-payment system and harmful borrowing choices or rejection of job offers.” “.

“It’s clear that a reassessment of the cap on eligible childcare costs is long overdue, and avoiding forcing parents to pay childcare costs before receiving help is also vital if families are to have access to affordable, high-quality childcare.”

“It is crucial not only to help parents increase their working hours, but also its transformative effect on children’s lives,” he stressed.

Jolie Brierley, chief executive of Pregnant Then Screwed, said asking Universal Credit parents to pay upfront for childcare was “absolutely stupid”.

She said: “Hundreds of parents who have received job offers have contacted us only to find they need to have more than a thousand pounds in the bank to pay for childcare, leaving them with no choice but to turn down the offers.”

“This system based on deferred childcare costs keeps low-income parents out of the labor market and pushes them further into poverty,” she added. wanting to earn a living.

“Why do we have so many economically inactive parents and so many children living in poverty in this country,” she asked.

Megan Garvey, Chair of Coram Family and Childcare, said: “Our research shows that even part-time childcare costs an average of £138 ($166) a week, so subsidizing childcare costs is vital for low-income families . The average is for parents to actually stop paying so they can go to work. But universal credit is currently a long way from what is needed.”

“In light of the financial pressures facing families, the government is urgently required to tackle these age-old problems with universal credit, to enable families to work more hours to improve their circumstances rather than pushing them into debt,” she said. .

Save the Children praised the board for listening to parents who are “crying out for change to a broken childcare system”.

Dan Baskins, the charity’s UK director of monitoring and evaluation, said: “We are particularly encouraged by the calls to the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education to work together to remove the upfront childcare costs faced by Universal Credit recipients. which left many parents in debt and disincentive.. To return to work and progress in it.

“We also welcome the recommendation to raise the cap on childcare costs to better reflect the extortionate scale of childcare costs in 2022,” he added.

“The cap has not been raised since 2005, and with the rate of inflation reaching levels not seen in 40 years, raising the cap would reduce pressure on parents’ financial resources and ensure families can afford to start working or increase working hours,” he said. explained.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Universal Credit’s childcare offer has been carefully designed to support parents in work, paying up to 85 per cent of childcare costs (up to a maximum of £646.35 per month), which is far more generous. from the old regime.

“Job coaches can help applicants get support up to a month before starting work, regardless of the number of hours worked,” she added.

“The government has spent more than £20 billion ($24.1 billion) over the past five years subsidizing childcare costs, empowering providers, ensuring families get the help they’re entitled to while saving money on their bills,” she said.

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