According to a new report by the charity Gingerbread, thousands of London’s single parents are “being locked out of employment due to the prohibitive cost of childcare.”
The charity’s analysis revealed that “half of single parents are forced to borrow money in order to meet the high cost of childcare in the capital”. Moreover, many parents who are “returning to work” are reportedly being left with little choice but to reduce working hours or leave work entirely to care for children.
One in six single parents in London during 2015 were described by the Gingerbread report as “under-employed” or working part-time but wanting to increase their hours.
Calls have been made for the London mayoral candidates and City Hall to endorse a scheme proposed by the Gingerbread charity. Upfront: A Childcare Deposit Guarantee is an initiative designed “to support parents about to start a new job or increase their working hours.” As a part of the Upfront plan, the Greater London Authority (GLA) would help parents arrange care for their children ahead of their first pay cheque, with the GLA directly paying the deposits nurseries and childminders typically require.
Gingerbread Chief Executive, Fiona Weir, said the guarantee “would be an important step towards supporting London’s single parents, who account for one in three families in the capital”.
Weir also explains that “for parents of preschool children, the situation is even more challenging,” because of recent restrictions on the “eligibility criteria around the 30 hours of free childcare for parents of three and four-year-olds”.
The Gingerbread report incentivises its findings by adding that if measures were taken to get single parents working, even a five percentage point rise in single parents’ employment rates could generate £436m a year for the government, and could reduce benefits and increase tax revenue.