Childcare Policies Stopped More Than 300,000 Parents Returning to Work

Ineffective Childcare Policies Stopped More Than 300,000 Parents Returning to Work in 2014, Costing Taxpayers £1.8 billion, the Annual Childcare Report Reveals*


Leading childcare search site has today published its third Annual Childcare Report, which has revealed the shocking truth about how the nation’s ineffective childcare policies have stopped more than 300,000 parents returning to work in the last 12 months, costing the UK £1.8 billion in child tax credits, without adding the lost tax revenues.*


The report also reveals that the childcare policies currently in place to help working families are still too confusing, causing 49 percent of all parents to claim that the incumbent government is not doing enough to help.’s Annual Childcare Report, which is now in its third year, is created using data from its hundreds of thousands of members, in addition to an omnibus survey of 1,000 parents around the UK.  It is a perfect platform from which to reveal the troubled childcare landscape that parents are being forced to deal with.


This year’s report reveals the true impact that the Coalition Government’s childcare policies are having on UK families, including the biggest barriers to childcare, struggles with returning to work, availability, and increasing costs.


The 2015 Annual Childcare Report’s findings have been supported by a range of experts and figure-heads in the childcare industry, including Siobhan Freeguard, Founder of Netmums, who has provided the report’s foreword.  It also includes case studies of real parents on the parenting front line.


Tom Harrow, CEO of and dad of two comments on the findings: “The last 12 months have seen very little change when it comes to childcare, and the general feeling toward government hasn’t shifted amongst the age group that are most affected – 18-34 year olds.


“In 2015 we want to see more businesses offering better flexible working hours, and treating mums and dads equally when it comes to childcare – it’s a joint responsibility, and that should be reflected in the workplace, especially as the pay gap between males and females continues to reduce - The gender pay gap for all employees, full-time and part-time, in 2014 was the lowest on record at 19.1%, down from 19.8% in 2013.


“I created to help working parents, like me, find suitable, affordable childcare solutions – and since then, we’ve helped hundreds of thousands families continue with their lives, rather than being restricted by their decision to have children.”  


Siobhan Freegard, Founder of Netmums commented on the findings in the report foreword: "Whilst more mothers are choosing to work now than at any time in history, we're also seeing many more who are being forced back into employment to meet their family's financial needs.

"Combine this with the ongoing baby boom and you have the perfect storm to force up the already worryingly high price of childcare.


"The tremendous pressure on the childcare system means costs are now at an all-time high, creating a barrier for some parents who desperately want to return to work.

"With childcare costs affecting over 6.7 million* people in the UK, it will be foremost in parents minds when they go to the polls later this year. While each party has different ideas on how to help, whoever is handed the keys to Downing Street in the forthcoming general election will struggle to find a suitable solution


Below are key findings under each section of the report.


Is the government doing enough?


  • Parents in the UK continue to warm to the UK government when it comes to childcare support – within the last 24 months parents’ trust in the government has increased by 9% (18% in 2013 / 25% in 2014 / 27% in 2015). The government still have a lot of convincing to do as 49% of all parents still say they’re not doing enough.


  • The age bracket least impressed with the government’s efforts is 25-34 year olds with over half (53%) saying that they are not doing enough.


  • The top five regions where parents think the government should be doing more when it comes to childcare are:
    • Scotland - 57%
    • London – 57%
    • East Midlands – 56%
    • Northern Ireland – 55%
    • South West – 53%




Affording to work


Since 2013 there has been a 3% rise in parents who are employed part-time or full-time


  • 77% in 2013
  • 77% in 2014
  • 80% in 2015


A quarter (25%) of all unemployed mums in the UK say they would like to work, but childcare costs are stopping them.


Younger parents need the most help returning to work. 26% of all unemployed parents aged 25-34 say they would like to work, but can’t afford the childcare, affecting approximately 118,777 parents. This is followed closely by 23% of 18-24 year olds, a further 183,965 parents affected*.


The top five cities where unemployed parents would like to work but can’t afford the childcare costs are:

  • London – 29%
  • Bristol – 25%
  • Birmingham – 25%
  • Cardiff – 24%
  • Leeds – 22%

London has the highest number of unemployed parents (39%) compared to Northern Ireland which has the most employed parents (86%).


The more children an unemployed parent has, the less likely they are to work, due to childcare costs:


Number of children                        % that would like to work, but can’t

1                                                              16%

2-3                                                          21%

4-5                                                          44% (up by 9% since last year)


*Based on the amount of parents with dependent children in England and Wales




Digital technology & child development


With more than 44,000 apps available and aimed at children on iTunes, never has a generation been so exposed to technology. We asked parents if they are keen on their children using technology regularly (86% yes) and if they believed it enhanced their child’s development (79% yes).


Despite these findings, when it comes to looking after children that are not our own, we tend to use technology less often.  Only 60% of childcare professionals surveyed said they feel comfortable allowing the children they are responsible for to use digital technology.



Barriers to childcare


We asked UK parents to rank their childcare concerns (1 being the biggest – 5 being the smallest)


  1. Cost - 1.9 out of 5
  2. Safety – 2.7 out of 5
  3. Location – 3.1 out of 5
  4. Availability – 3.4 out of 5
  5. Conscience – 3.9 out of 5


Cost being the biggest barrier to childcare, parents in the following cities are finding it hardest:


  1. Cambridge – 66%
  2. Glasgow – 64%
  3. Belfast – 64%
  4. Bristol – 61%
  5. Cardiff – 61%


Safety is the biggest concern for parents in:


  1. Leicester – 26%
  2. Oxford - 25%
  3. Birmingham – 22%
  4. Cardiff – 22%
  5. Bristol – 21%




Availability of childcare in the UK


The most popular childcare options in the UK are:


  1. Babysitter – 37%
  2. Nanny – 30%
  3. Mother’s Help – 15%
  4. Ofsted Childminder – 14%
  5. Au Pair – 4%

Additional raw data from the report is available upon request.


*This is based on 302,742 parents not being able to return to work, multiplied by £3,330 – the average annual child tax credits for families who don’t work, but have one dependent child.




For more information, images or to arrange an interview, please contact

Lisa Malyon or Alana Caldwell at Sense Communications & PR at

or or call 0203 551 3954.



Note to editors


Report research methodology


  • Included data is from a national omnibus survey of 1000 UK-based parents with at least one child aged 10 or younger.  The survey was carried out between 3rd – 7th November 2014.
  • In addition to the omnibus survey, also performed its own independent online survey of 277 parents and 877 childcare professionals between 13th October – 17th November 2014.




  • is a leading UK online search site that brings parents and childcare professionals together to create cost-effective, flexible solutions quickly, and easily – putting an end to unnecessarily high childcare search costs.


  • has hundreds of thousands of members, including parents and childcare professionals.  
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